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By Jesse Zanger
/ CBS New York
NEW YORK – The who disappeared from a popular state park in upstate New York while camping with her family ended Monday evening with the announcement that
The girl was found “in good health” just after 6:30 p.m. Monday as police searched multiple residences where where the suspect, identified as Craig Nelson Ross Jr., was known to live.
Ross, 46, from Ballston Spa, was in the first degree.
New York State Police were able to identify Ross by matching fingerprints on a ransom note left at the girl’s home to ones from a 1999 DWI case in Saratoga, Gov. Kathy Hochul said.
“We are overjoyed at the news that Charlotte Sena has been located safely this evening after an intense days-long search,” Hochul said in a statement. “Our hearts are with her family as they welcome her home. Thank you to the New York State Police, New York Park Police and all who worked so tirelessly to find Charlotte. It is because of their efforts that Charlotte will be able to return home safe to her family.”
An AMBER Alert was issued for her after she disappeared Saturday night. for the missing girl. Hochul called the disappearance “every parent’s nightmare.”
Her family released a statement Tuesday, saying they are “thrilled” she is home.
“We are thrilled that she is home and we understand that the outcome is not what every family gets. A huge thank you to the FBI, the New York State police, all of the agencies that were mobilized, all of the families, friends, community, neighbors and hundreds of volunteers who supported us and worked tirelessly to bring Charlotte home,” the statement continued.
Here’s a look at some of what we learned as the search unfolded:
The 9-year-old was wearing an orange, tie-dyed Pokemon shirt, dark blue pants, black Crocs, and a grey bike helmet when she disappeared.
While she was missing, her aunt Jené Sena pleaded for information to help find Charlotte.
“She is a blonde, adorable 9-year-old little girl with bangs. She has green eyes, just under 5 feet tall and she is just a sweet, adorable girl,” Jené Sena said.
The family lives in Greenfield, N.Y. which is roughly 12 miles from where she went missing.
New York State Police identified 47-year-old Craig Nelson Ross, Jr. as the suspect by matching fingerprints on a ransom note left at the girl’s home to ones from a 1999 DWI case in Saratoga, Hochul said.
Ross was said to be in the same area of the park around the time the girl went missing. The girl was found at a residence where he was known to live.
The 46-year-old from Ballston Spa has been in the first degree.
“We cannot emphasize enough how appreciative we are for the support we received from Charlotte’s community, friends and family,” New York State Police said in a statement.
The 9-year-old disappeared Saturday while visiting Moreau Lake State Park, a popular campground in Gansevoort, about 190 miles north of New York City.
The girl and her family were camping in the Southeast corner of the park, in a campground area known as Loop A.
Here’s a look at the map of Moreau Lake State Park:
She had been bike riding with her friends Saturday when she decided to do one more loop on her own. That’s when she disappeared. It all happened within 15 minutes.
Concerns grew that she may have been abducted. Authorities said when they located her that they had a suspect in custody.
The park was closed while the search was underway.
She was at the campground with her parents David and Trisha Sena.
Hochul said her parents realized almost immediately that something was wrong when she didn’t return from her bike ride at around 6:15 p.m.
“Her parents knew immediately something was up. They called her name. People started searching, people from other campgrounds joined. And 30 minutes later, at 6:47, Charlotte’s mother, Trisha, called 911. The scene was chaotic. People leaving their food, leaving their tables, just everyone in search, calling the name, ‘Charlotte, Charlotte,'” Hochul said.
State Police arrived on the scene by 7 p.m. Saturday night.
She was recovered around 6:30 p.m. Monday.
A team led by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers was involved in the search. They said the search search area encompassed more than 46 miles, and involved more than 400 certified search and rescue personnel from law enforcement, volunteer fire departments, and private search and rescue groups.
State Police are asking anyone who visited Moreau Lake State Park Saturday to contact them by emailing [email protected].
“When a child disappears, members of the community often have information they do not realize is valuable. This information is crucial in establishing a timeline of what happened,” State Police said in a statement.
First published on October 2, 2023 / 11:05 AM
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