“But it is not known at this time whether he knew her or had her under surveillance for any length of time,” New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul told reporters Monday
New York State Gov. Kathy Hochul says authorities don’t know whether Charlotte Sena knew the man suspected of being her kidnapper before she went missing during a bike ride at a state park over the weekend.
On Monday, after about 48 hours of investigation, authorities arrested Craig Nelson Ross Jr., 46, and charged him Tuesday with first-degree kidnapping after his fingerprints matched one found on a ransom note he allegedly left in the victim’s family mailbox, according to a press release from the New York State Police and Hochul.
Investigators were led to the 9-year-old girl’s location after they discovered the key piece of evidence and ran it through police records, PEOPLE previously reported. Hochul said at a press conference Monday evening that the suspect’s fingerprints were linked to a DWI case from 1999 in Saratoga, N.Y.
Through the fingerprint, authorities were able to locate a home occupied by the suspect’s mother. The suspect was then found at 6:32 p.m. Monday in a camper parked behind the building, Hochul said.
Charlotte, who went missing while riding her bike in Moreau Lake State Park in Gansevoort, N.Y. on Saturday evening, was discovered alive and “physically unharmed” in a cabinet, the governor said. She was taken to a hospital, as is customary.
Hochul told reporters that there appears to be no connection between Ross Jr. — who according to an address listed on his car registration, lived two miles from the Sena family home — and Charlotte.
“But it is not known at this time whether he knew her or had her under surveillance for any length of time,” the governor said.
Hochul confirmed Charlotte’s disappearance from the state park at a press conference on Sunday.
“[Charlotte] did a couple of loops with close friends she considers her cousins and then she decided after going around Loop A, she said she wanted to go around one more time by herself. Be that big girl, do it by herself,” Hochul said.
While her bike was reportedly recovered, per Fox News, it’s unclear who found it. Police said she vanished around 6:45 p.m. and several law enforcement agencies issued an AMBER Alert and began widespread search shortly after.
In a post on X (formerly known as Twitter) Monday evening, Hochul said she “promised Charlotte's parents (Trisha and David Sena) we'd leave no stone unturned in our search,” adding that Charlotte has now been “reunited with her family.”
“Often these stories don’t end up like this,” Hochul said at the press conference, before thanking local and federal law enforcement for their hard work. “Every second is key. There’s a lot of pressure. Split decisions are made because you know, not just a life is hanging in the balance, but an innocent little child’s life is hanging in the balance.”
According to the New York State Police, the Sena family is asking for privacy at this time.
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A GoFundMe page has been launched by Charlotte’s aunt to help the Sena family with unforeseen costs.
“... Any donations will go directly to her parents to help with any expenses while they transition back into some sense of normalcy,” the campaign’s description reads.
"We are thrilled that she is home and we understand that the outcome is not what every family gets," Charlotte's family tells PEOPLE in a statement. "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."
It’s unclear if Ross Jr. — who is being held in the Saratoga County Jail without bail — has entered a plea or retained an attorney to speak on his behalf.
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