A man accused of kidnapping nine-year-old Charlotte Sena is being investigated for potential links to the unsolved murders of two women nearly two decades ago.
Craig Ross, 46, is facing charges of kidnapping in the first degree in connection with Charlotte’s abduction on 1 October. New York State Police said earlier this week that the child was snatched while riding her bike during a family camping trip at Moreau Lake State Park in Saratoga County.
Two days later, Charlotte was found inside a campervan parked behind the home of Mr Ross’s mother in Ballston Spa. Mr Ross, who is also accused of delivering a ransom note at the Sena family home in the early hours of Monday, was arrested after fingerprints pulled from the note matched his records from a 1999 DUI arrest, police said.
Saratoga County Sheriff’s detective Matthew Robinson has now told the AlbanyTimes-Union that his agency is considering potential links between Mr Ross and the murders of 18-year-old Jennifer Hammond and 19-year-old Christina White, whose bodies were found in the area after they went missing in 2003 and 2005, respectively.
“At this time, we have no information to indicate that he was or was not involved,” Mr Robinson told the Times-Union. “There’s no, like, hot lead that says he’s our guy or anything like that ... [We’re probing any] association [he] has with any major case in the area.”
Hammond went missing in 2003 while soliciting magazines in the Creek and Pines Trailer Park, in Ballston Spa, according to New York State Police records. She never showed up at a designated spot where her employer had arranged to pick her up and a previously purchased bus ticket to her home state of Colorado was never used.
Her belongings were left behind in an Albany hotel where she had been staying with other coworkers.
Two years later, in June 2005, White was reported missing by family members after she vanished from the Ballston Spa area. A year later, her remains were found on Daketown Road in Greenfield, and authorities were able to determine that she had been stabbed in her abdomen.
Then, in October 2009, Hammond’s skull was discovered in a wooded area off of Lake Desolation Road, also in Greenfield. Because the rest of her remains were never recovered, Hammond’s cause of death remains unknown.
Authorities have long suspected that the two cold cases may be connected because both victims went missing in the same area and their remains were also located in the same town.
Mr Robinson declined to comment on whether Mr Ross had ever been questioned in connection with the Hammond and White cases.
He said Mr Ross’s name never came up during the years-long investigation “with any kind of significance,” but the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office was probing any potential connections.
“There is no direct evidence or information that links Ross to the White or Hammond cases,” Mr Robinson added.
Gov Kathy Hochul revealed during a press conference late Monday night after Charlotte’s rescue that Mr Ross was not a registered sex offender. Officials at the press conference only mentioned a 1999 DUI arrest when asked about the kidnapping suspect’s criminal history.
New York State Police officials have since confirmed to The Independent that Mr Ross was arrested five years ago over a domestic dispute. According to the law enforcement agency, the unnamed victim accused Mr Ross, who lived in Corinth at the time, of applying pressure on their throat during an altercation on 21 April 2017.
“Ross Jr was arrested at the scene and transported to SP Wilton for processing,” a spokesperson for NYSP said in a statement. “He was arraigned at the Moreau Town Court and released on his own recognizance.”
The NYSP said it could not comment on reports of pending investigations involving Mr Ross.
“New York State Police will not confirm, deny, or provide any information concerning investigations that did not result in criminal prosecution,” the agency said.
Mr Ross is being held without bail at the Saratoga County Correctional Facility. Authorities said that more charges are expected pending the ongoing investigation.
He is expected to appear in court again on 21 November.