Family of Charlotte Sena, girl abducted from NY park before being found safe, expresses relief as suspect charged

The family of Charlotte Sena, the 9-year-old girl who authorities said was abducted from a New York state park Saturday before she was found alive hiding in the cupboard of a trailer two days later, shared a message of relief as her alleged abductor was arraigned on a kidnapping charge.

“We are thrilled that she is home and we understand that the outcome is not what every family gets,” Jené Sena, Charlotte’s aunt, said in a statement.

“A huge thank you to the FBI, the New York State police, all of the multiple agencies that were mobilized, all of the families, friends, and hundreds of volunteers for assisting in her safe return,” she added.

Suspect Craig Nelson Ross Jr., 47, was arraigned overnight on a charge of first-degree kidnapping in Milton Town Court and was remanded into Saratoga County jail without bail.

His next court date is set for Oct. 17.

Charlotte Sena had disappeared Saturday night while riding a bike by herself at a Moreau Lake State Park.

She had been camping with her family and was last seen around 6:15 p.m., state police said.

Initially, she was biking around a park loop with family friends, then did a loop by herself, and failed to turn up again. Her bike was found on the loop, authorities said. 

An Ambert Alert was activated Sunday and over 400 certified search and rescue personnel searched for her Monday. 

The massive search culminated with the little girl being found safe and in “good health” Monday night at 6:32 p.m. 

State police said Monday night investigators learned about a person who was “in the area” of Moreau Lake State Park about the time Charlotte went missing and multiple residences where the person was known to stay were searched. 

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New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said officials honed in on the suspect after he dropped a ransom note at Sena’s parents’ home Monday morning and a fingerprint matched a driving while intoxicated arrest made in 1999 in Saratoga. 

“He literally drove up to the family’s mailbox … at 4:20 in the morning,” to drop off the note, the governor said.

That fingerprint, she said, led to a nearby residence where the suspect was found.

He was arrested Monday evening at the residence, an RV trailer at a site where his mother also resides. Two SWAT teams made a “dynamic entry” into his living quarters, Hochul said. The suspect allegedly resisted arrest and suffered minor injuries, state police said. 

It’s not yet clear if Ross knew the Sena family or not.

State Police are expected to share further details on the case in a news conference Tuesday.

Marlene Lenthang

Breaking News Reporter

Josh Cradduck and Antonio Planascontributed.