Charlotte Sena: Suspect charged with girl's kidnapping after ransom note found

Craig Nelson Ross Jr., the suspect in Saturday's abduction of 9-year-old Charlotte Sena at Moreau Lake State Park, has been charged with first-degree kidnapping, according to the Saratoga County Sheriff's Office.

The 47-year-old is currently being held without bail at Saratoga County jail, authorities said.


Sena, who vanished during a family camping trip in upstate New York, was "safe and in good health" Monday following a massive two-day search that ended with her rescue.

Sena disappeared Saturday evening while riding her bike early at Moreau Lake State Park, a heavily wooded area some 35 miles north of Albany.

Who is the suspect, Craig Nelson Ross Jr.?

Gov. Kathy Hochul said Monday night during a news conference that investigators were able to identify a fingerprint from a ransom note allegedly left by Ross.

The governor said while the rest of Charlotte's family remained at the campground where she had gone missing, police watching their home saw someone drop a note in their mailbox Monday around 4:20 a.m. State police pulled fingerprints off the note and the second one matched Ross, who was in a database from a 1999 DWI case, Hochul said.

Law enforcement agents linked Ross to a property owned by his mother, made entry and found him in a camper around 6:30 p.m., she said.

"After some resistance, the suspect was taken into custody and immediately the little girl was found in a cabinet," Hochul said. "She knew she was being rescued. She knew that she was in safe hands."

Charlotte was taken to a local hospital, as is customary, Hochul said, adding she appeared physically unharmed and that she and her family have been reunited.


9-year-old vanishes after bike ride during family camping trip

A massive search is underway for a 9-year-old girl believed to have been abducted from Moreau Lake State Park in New York.

The governor named Ross as the suspect late Monday night and it wasn't immediately known if he had a lawyer to comment on his behalf.

Authorities said it was still an active investigation.

Amber Alert and search

The rescue marked the end of an intense search. About 400 people took part in the hunt for the girl Monday, including forest rangers, police officers and firefighters. The search had expanded over 46 linear miles.

Charlotte, a fourth grader from nearby Greenfield, had been riding her bike around a campsite loop in the park with other children when she decided to ride around one more time by herself. Her parents became alarmed when she failed to return after 15 minutes, Hochul said at a briefing Sunday.

The girl’s mother called 911 after her bicycle was found Saturday around 6:45 p.m.

Officials issued an Amber Alert on Sunday morning after an exhaustive search because "it was quite possible that an abduction had taken place," state police Lt. Colonel Richard Mazzone said. 


An Amber Alert is displayed along roadways throughout upstate New York on Monday, October 2, 2023. Nine-year-old Charlotte Sena was reported missing this weekend after she failed to return from a bike ride while camping with her parents in Moreau Lak

The girl’s family pleaded with the public for help in finding Charlotte, including providing any tips to the state police.

"We just want her returned safely like any parent would," the family said in a statement earlier Monday. "No tip is too small, please call if you know anything at all."

Troopers had set up several checkpoints on the winding, rural roads around the park. They stopped drivers and asked if they knew the family, had seen the girl’s photo or had any other information that could help the search. They also had some drivers open their trunks.


Visitors were asked to stay away from Moreau Lake State Park as authorities searched for the missing 9-year-old girl on Sunday. (Mike Groll/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul)

The park remained closed because of the search, and officials asked members of the public who showed up hoping to help to stay away and leave the search to professionals. Federal authorities also issued a temporary flight restriction over the park for the safety of law enforcement air operations.

The Corinth Central School District said it had extra counselors at Charlotte’s elementary school for any students or staff who need support.

"Our hearts go out to the Sena family," the district said in a statement.

MICHAEL HILL and LISA BAUMANN, with the Associated Press, helped contribute to this report.