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Fingerprint on ransom note leads police to missing 9-year-old Charlotte Sena, suspect Craig Nelson Ross Jr. in Upstate New York

Fingerprint on ransom note led police to missing girl in Upstate New York
Fingerprint on ransom note led police to missing girl in Upstate New York 02:33

SARATOGA COUNTY, N.Y. -- The 9-year-old girl who disappeared in Moreau Lake State Park over the weekend, has been found safe and a suspect is in custody, New York State Police said Monday evening. 

Fingerprints on a ransom note left at the girl's home led police to the suspect, Gov. Kathy Hochul said.

"Literally drove up to the family's mailbox, assuming they were not home, 4:20 in the morning, opens the mailbox and inserts the ransom note," Hochul said at a late-night press conference. "The hit came at 2:30 in the afternoon. There had been a DWI in 1999 in the city of Saratoga. A fingerprint was found that matched what was found on the ransom note."

State police said they identified the suspect, 47-year-old Craig Nelson Ross Jr., as being in the area of the park around the time the girl went missing Saturday. 

The girl was found "in good health" just after 6:30 p.m. Monday as police searched multiple residences where Ross Jr. was known to live. 

Neighbors in the area expressed great relief

"Child abductions by strangers, if that is the case here, are normally not kidnap for ransom cases. That would be unusual," said John Miller, a law enforcement analyst. 

"The fact that this little girl is with her family, their family is whole again tonight. Long road to recovery. The trauma that she experienced I'm sure is immense," said Callahan Walsh, from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. 

Watch Gov. Hochul, state police give update on search

Watch: Fingerprints on ransom note led police to missing 9-year-old girl 15:53

The girl and her family were camping in the park, located about 45 miles north of Albany, when she went for a bike ride with friends Saturday and vanished. She went for one more ride on her own and didn't return. 

Her family began looking for her and found her abandoned bike. Her mother called police to report her missing and authorities began searching around the clock.

An Amber alert was issued Sunday morning as investigators believed there was a strong chance she was abducted.

Monday, the FBI joined the search. Crews used drones and bloodhounds to scour the 6,000-acre park. 

Ross Jr. was still being questioned and charges were expected, Hochul said. The case "is still an active investigation," police said.

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