Missing 9-Year-Old Found Safe, Suspect Detained in New York State Park Incident


NEW YORK STATE — In a significant development, 9-year-old Charlotte Sena, who had gone missing during a camping trip at a New York state park, has been located safe, and a suspect has been apprehended, as confirmed by authorities on Monday evening.

Before Charlotte was found, her parents received a ransom note at their residence, as disclosed by New York Governor Kathy Hochul during an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

Governor Hochul outlined the meticulous efforts of law enforcement following the discovery of the note, emphasizing a crucial piece of evidence that led to the breakthrough in the case.

According to Hochul, the breakthrough occurred around 4:20 a.m. ET on Monday when the suspect drove to Charlotte’s parents' residence and left a ransom note in the mailbox.

“He literally drove up to the family’s mailbox assuming they were not home,” Hochul stated, noting that Charlotte’s parents were still at the campground searching for their daughter.

The family's home was under state police surveillance, but officers were attending to another call in the vicinity when the suspect delivered the note. The document was subsequently examined for fingerprints, leading to the identification of 47-year-old Craig Nelson Ross, Jr., as confirmed by the governor.

Investigators established that Ross was residing in a camper behind his mother’s residence. Two SWAT teams were deployed for entry, resulting in the apprehension of the suspect.

Despite some resistance during the arrest, Ross sustained minor injuries. Charlotte was discovered concealed in a cabinet within the camper. Governor Hochul remarked, “She knew she was being rescued. She knew she was in safe hands.”

Although Charlotte appeared to be in good health, she was taken to a hospital for customary evaluation.

As of Monday night, Ross was still undergoing questioning. Governor Hochul noted, “At this moment, charges have not been brought, but they are fully expected.”

Earlier, Governor Hochul informed CNN that cell phone pings from individuals in the area where Charlotte was last seen played a crucial role in her discovery. Additionally, data from campers’ registrations and entrance fees contributed to narrowing down potential suspects.

The combination of these elements ultimately led authorities to the suspect and facilitated Charlotte’s safe return.

The incident unfolded when Charlotte, who was camping with her family at Moreau Lake State Park, went on a solo bike ride during dinner time and did not return. Her bike was found in one of the park’s loops without her, prompting her mother to report her missing.

Following an extensive search involving hundreds of volunteers and various law enforcement agencies, Charlotte was located and reunited with her family. Governor Hochul expressed her gratitude to all involved in ensuring Charlotte's safe return.

The popular state park, covering over 6,200 acres, is situated approximately 45 miles north of Albany and features diverse natural landscapes including hardwood forests, pine stands, and rocky ridges, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation.