A man accused of kidnapping nine-year-old Charlotte Sena from a New York campsite was arrested years earlier over a domestic violence incident, The Independent has confirmed.
Craig N Ross Jr, 46, was arrested on Monday evening and charged with kidnapping in the first degree in connection with the 1 October abduction of Charlotte. The little girl was found “unharmed” and hiding inside a cabinet in Mr Ross’ campervan, which was parked behind his mother’s residence in the village of of Ballston Spa, police said.
Gov Kathy Hochul revealed during a press conference following the rescue that Mr Ross was linked to the abduction through a ransom note left inside the Sena family’s mailbox in the early morning hours of Monday. State police pulled fingerprints off the note and the second one matched Mr Ross, who was in a database from a 1999 DWI case.
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.”
It is unclear whether the Saratoga County District Attorney’s Office followed through with the case or dropped the charges, but public court records do not show a pending case against Mr Ross over the 2017 incident. The Independent has reached out to the DA’s office for comment.
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.
According to a timeline released by authorities, Charlotte asked to go on a solo bike ride at Moreau Lake State Park in Saratoga County around 6.15pm on Saturday afternoon.
When she failed to return in the next 15 minutes, the little girl’s parents and other campers at the scene started searching for her in the woods. At around 6.45pm, Charlotte’s bike was found abandoned near Loop A, and just two minutes later her mother placed a 911 call to report her missing.
State police issued an Amber Alert the following day, warning that it was possible that an abduction had taken place. About 400 people took part in the search for Charlotte, including forest rangers, police officers and firefighters.
According to police, officers saw someone drop a note in the mailbox at 4.20am Monday, the governor said. At the time, Charlotte’s family was at the campground while police watched their home in Greenfield.
Law enforcement agents linked Ross to the property owned by his mother, where they found him in the camper.
“After some resistance, the suspect was taken into custody and immediately the little girl was found in a cabinet,” Gov Hochul said. “She knew she was being rescued. She knew that she was in safe hands.”
Charlotte’s family issued a statement thanking authorities for their efforts.
“We are thrilled that she is home and we understand that the outcome is not what every family gets,” the family said. “A huge thank you to the FBI, the New York State police, all of the agencies that were mobilized, all of the families, friends, community, neighbors and hundreds of volunteers who supported us and worked tirelessly to bring Charlotte home.”
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 on Friday morning.