Craig Nelson Ross Jr., the suspect in the kidnapping of Charlotte Sena, lived in a camper behind his mother’s trailer in upstate New York, about a three-minute drive from Charlotte’s home.
The large property, with several sheds and outbuildings and a big yard, was swamped by police and forensic experts on Monday, as officers hurried to find out if Ross might be linked to any other disappearances.
Ross, 47, wasn’t known to police and he was linked to Charlotte’s disappearance through fingerprinting after a 1999 DUI. The Ross home on Barrett Road, Milton, New York, is about a mile from where Charlotte lives.
The bizarre set of circumstances that led to Ross’ arrest suggest that his planning of the kidnapping was haphazard. At 4:20 a.m. on Monday a car quickly pulled up to the Sena family mailbox and dropped off a random note, even though there were state police outside the house.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul said at a press conference on Monday that it was dark and local police got a sense of the type of car, but not a definite match for the brand or the number plate.
The police immediately sent the ransom letter for analysis and it was found to have strong fingerprint and DNA evidence. It didn’t appear that the kidnapper was wearing gloves while writing the note. The first print the police lifted wasn’t a match on their database, but the second one was.
By 2:30 p.m on Monday, police had linked the second fingerprint to Ross through a 1999 DUI conviction in Saratoga.
The police quickly gathered a rescue team, flying in Special Operations Response Team (SORT) members from other parts of New York, and gathering an FBI SWAT team. Some20 SORT team members and the FBI SWAT team burst into a camper on the Ross property and found Ross inside. Charlotte was found covered up in a cabinet.
Ross was quickly subdued and taken into custody with minor injuries, and Charlotte’s parents were notified just after 6 p.m. on Monday.
Police are still trying to determine if Ross knew of the Sena family before the kidnapping. Ross’ car registration is listed at an address very close to Charlotte’s family home, raising the possibility that he had seen Charlotte before.
Police will spend Tuesday interviewing Ross to determine if he had been stalking Charlotte, if he is a pedophile or simply a criminal trying to make money. They will also be interviewing his family and friends about his movements and his character, while checking his DNA against a database of child abduction cases.
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