Police have revealed a possible eerie link between nine-year-old Charlotte Sena and her alleged kidnapper.
Craig Nelson Ross Jr, 47, was charged with first-degree kidnapping after the nine-year-old was allegedly found hidden in a cabinet in a campervan at the back of his mother’s house on Monday evening.
It came 48 hours after Charlotte was snatched while riding her bike in Moreau Lake State Park in Saratoga County, upstate New York, on Saturday evening.
At a press conference on Monday evening, New York Governor Kathy Hochul revealed the address connected to the suspect’s vehicle was just two miles from Charlotte’s home in Greenfield.
Police are still attempting to determine if the Sena family was known to the suspect, the governor said, and will spend Tuesday interviewing Mr Ross to determine if he had the nine-year-old under surveillance.
Governor Hochul said: “It’s not been determined that the suspect was known to the family. That is what will be revealed after more extensive questioning. The vehicle registered to the suspect, the address in the database was two miles from Charlotte’s home but it is not known at this point whether he knew her or had her under surveillance for a length of time.”
The governor also said the suspect’s home is being searched by police to make sure he is not connected to any other cases.
The suspect was identified by police after he drove to the home of Charlotte’s parents and left a ransom note on Monday morning, Ms Hochul said.
“He literally drove up to the family’s mailbox assuming they were not home,” Ms Hochul said, adding that Charlotte’s parents were still at the campground at Moreau Lake State Park at the time, and officers who were monitoring the family home had been sent to another call in the area.
Police later tested the note for fingerprints and searched law enforcement databases for a match.
A match later came back as belonging to the 47-year-old suspect.
Law enforcement then tracked him down to the campervan where he lived behind his mother’s home.
Ms Hochul said that officers made a “dynamic entry” into the campervan and found the suspect inside.
Mr Ross was taken into custody “after some resistance” and little Charlotte was then found hidden and covered inside a cabinet.
“She knew that she was being rescued. She knew that she was in safe hands,” the governor said.
Charlotte outwardly seemed to be unharmed but was taken to hospital as a precautionary measure, the governor said.
Her parents were notified that she was found safe at 6.32pm and the family was reunited soon after.
It came almost 48 hours after the nine-year-old’s family found her abandoned bike at Moreau Lake State Park in Saratoga County after she went on a solo bike ride.
Police issued an Amber Alert for the missing girl, and a search was launched including an estimated 400 search and rescue personnel.
Moreau Lake State Park temporarily closed while authorities searched for Charlotte.
Police are now asking members of the public to come forward with surveillance footage from around the time of the abduction of the nine-year-old.
A GoFundMe page for the Sena family was launched and has now raised over $21,000.
“Please donate to help the family during this difficult time,” a message posted on the fundraiser page reads. “Any donations will go directly to her parents to help with any expenses while they transition back into some sense of normalcy.”