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Man who kidnapped 9-year-old girl from upstate New York park sentenced to 47 years to life

Man faces sentencing for kidnapping 9-year-old girl from New York park
Man faces sentencing for kidnapping 9-year-old girl from New York park 00:29

NEW YORK -- The man who kidnapped a 9-year-old girl from an upstate New York park and sexually assaulted her was sentenced Wednesday to 47 years to life in prison.

Judge James A. Murphy III also issued a protective order for the girl so that he cannot contact her in person or through mail.

Craig N. Ross Jr. agreed to a plea arrangement in February, just weeks before his trial was set to start. The 46-year-old was charged with kidnapping and sexually abusing the girl last fall. 

She went missing on Sept. 30, 2023 after going for a bike ride with friends at Moreau State Park, a popular campground in Gansevoort, about 190 miles north of New York City.

Ross was sentenced to a minimum of 25 years to life in prison for the kidnapping charge and 22 years to life for predatory sexual assault of a child, with the sentences to be served consecutively.

He will not be eligible for parole before his 93rd birthday.

Craig Ross sentenced to prison

Ross, 47, was shackled when he entered the courtroom and appeared to show little emotion throughout the sentencing. He declined to speak.

"Because of you, I can't sleep at night," the girl, who was not present, said in a statement read in court by Saratoga County Assistant District Attorney Jennifer L. Buckley. "I was imprisoned for two and a half days, and now you will be imprisoned for 47 years."

Some family members of the little girl also spoke directly to Ross in court before the sentencing was announced.

"What kind of person wakes up in the morning and decides they'll steal someone's kid? What kind of monster does that?" the little girl's uncle said while staring at Ross, who was looking down.

"Look at me," he demanded from Ross, who appeared to meet the uncle's eyes for a moment before averting his gaze.

Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen told reporters she was happy with the sentence following the hearing.

"The family heard this defendant say that he's guilty of this crime. He admitted he did it, and those who would had to have been called upon to testify were spared having to relive that trauma," she said.

Closer look at the case

Investigators said the 9-year-old girl had been riding her bike with friends when she decided to do one more loop on her own. She went missing in a matter of 15 minutes. 

An AMBER Alert was issued, and the FBI joined the search. Gov. Kathy Hochul called the girl's disappearance "every parent's nightmare."

Investigators said more than 400 certified search and rescue personnel searched over 46 miles for her.

New York State Police identified Ross as the suspect by matching fingerprints on a ransom note left at the girl's home to ones from a 1999 DWI case in Saratoga, the governor said.

Ross was said to be in the same area of the park around the same time she went missing, and the girl was later found at a residence where he was known to live.

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