ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — A 9-year-old girl who vanished during a family camping trip in New York two days ago has been found after an extensive search, police announced Monday evening.
“Charlotte Sena has been located and in good health,” New York State Police said in a short press release. “A suspect is in custody. This is still an active investigation.”
Sena disappeared while riding her bike early Saturday evening at Moreau Lake State Park, a heavily wooded area some 35 miles (60 kilometers) north of Albany.
The girl’s mother called 911 after her bicycle was found around 6:45 p.m. Saturday. Police feared she may have been abducted.
About 400 search and rescue personnel were actively searching a 46 linear mile area around Moreau Lake State Park after an Amber Alert was activated Sunday morning.
Troopers set up several checkpoints on the winding, rural roads around the park. They stopped drivers and asked if they knew the family, had seen the girl’s photo or had any other information that could help the search. They also had some drivers open their trunks.
Gov. Kathy Hochul said Monday night during a news conference that investigators were able to identify a fingerprint from a ransom note allegedly left by the suspect she identified as Craig Nelson Ross Jr., 47.
“What happened was extraordinary,” she said.
She said while the rest of Charlotte’s family remained at the campground where she had gone missing, police watching their home saw someone drop a note in their mailbox at 4:20 a.m. Monday. State police pulled fingerprints off the note and the second one matched Ross, who was in a database from a 1999 DWI case, Hochul said.
Law enforcement agents linked Ross to a property owned by his mother, made entry and found him in a camper at about 6:30 p.m., she said.
“After some resistance, the suspect was taken into custody and immediately the little girl was found in a cabinet,” Hochul said. “She knew she was being rescued. She knew that she was in safe hands.”
Charlotte was taken to a local hospital, as is customary, Hochul said, adding that she appeared physically unharmed and that she and her family have been reunited.
No charges have been brought against Ross, but they are expected, Hochul said. Ross was still being questioned on Monday night, Hochul said.
The governor named Ross as the suspect late Monday night and it wasn’t immediately known if he had a lawyer to comment on his behalf.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.