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More charges expected against suspect in Charlotte Sena’s kidnapping as the investigation unfolds, police say


By Elizabeth Wolfe and Celina Tebor, CNN

(CNN) — New York investigators say they anticipate additional charges against the man accused of kidnapping 9-year-old Charlotte Sena as they dig into the timeline of events between her sudden disappearance and subsequent rescue Monday evening.

Craig Nelson Ross Jr., 46, was arrested and charged with kidnapping Charlotte after police say he abducted her from a New York state park over the weekend and tried to ransom her for money, according to court documents.

Charlotte, who was reported missing Saturday during a family camping trip, was found hidden in a cabinet of the camper where Ross was arrested and was returned to the arms of her parents “in good health,” Gov. Kathy Hochul announced.

Ultimately, it was Ross himself who provided investigators the biggest break in their case when he slid a ransom note into the Sena family’s mailbox before sunrise Monday – leaving behind fingerprints that would become instrumental in identifying him as a suspect, according to the governor.

But investigators’ work is still not over.

Authorities are seeking video footage from the hour after Charlotte was last seen in Moreau Lake State Park – particularly videos that capture roads leading from the park to the residence where Ross was found with the girl on Monday, according to the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office, whose jurisdiction covers the area.

The property where the girl was discovered, which is registered to Ross’ mother, is about a 30-minute drive south of the park, according to a CNN analysis of property records.

Police have held off on immediately interviewing Charlotte, who was reunited with her family after a medical check, sources briefed on the investigation told CNN Tuesday. She will eventually be interviewed by specially trained forensic experts who are skilled in questioning young victims and witnesses, the sources said.

The suspect had also not been formally interviewed as of Tuesday afternoon because he invoked his right to counsel after being arrested, the sources told CNN’s John Miller.

Ross was remanded into custody in Saratoga County without bail, state police said. He is expected to appear in court on Friday, court documents show.

CNN has sought comment from Ross’ defense attorney.

How the search for Charlotte unfolded

The Sena family is “thrilled” to have Charlotte back home after spending two agonizing days without any sign of the girl, they said in a statement Tuesday.

“We understand that the outcome is not what every family gets,” the statement said, while also thanking the hundreds of search and rescue personnel and federal, state and local agencies that worked to find the girl.

Charlotte was last seen around 6:15 p.m. Saturday riding her bike in Moreau Lake State Park, state police said. She was reported missing about 30 minutes later after her family found her bike abandoned along a park path, setting off a dogged around-the-clock search involving hundreds of personnel from multiple agencies, including the FBI, state police said.

“As each hour went on, hope faded. Because we all know the stories,” Hochul said.

Investigators began examining cell phone tower data to determine who may have been in the park’s vicinity at the time of the girl’s disappearance and had access to park records showing visitors who had paid to enter the recreation area, the governor said.

Less than 36 hours after the girl went missing, investigators got a key break in the case.

Charlotte’s parents were still out searching for their daughter in the pre-dawn hours Monday when then suspect drove past their house around 4:20 a.m. and slipped a ransom note in their mailbox, according to the governor.

Fingerprints pulled from the note after it was discovered by state police were run through law enforcement databases to find any potential match, the governor said.

By the afternoon, a match had come back for Ross, who had been fingerprinted in 1999 for an incident of driving while intoxicated, Hochul said.

Multiple residences connected to Ross were searched, state police said. But tactical teams ultimately set their sights on a camper behind the suspect’s mother’s mobile home in Ballston Spa, New York, Hochul said.

At around 6:30 p.m., the camper was swarmed by SWAT teams who descended on the residence in helicopters, arrested Ross and quickly found Charlotte shut in a cabinet, according to Hochul.

“They were able to bring her to safety. And not long after, she was in the arms of her parents at a hospital,” the governor said.

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Paul Murphy, John Miller, Sabrina Shulman, Jessica Prater, Jennifer Henderson, Rachel Burstein Parks and Andy Rose contributed to this report.

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