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Craig N. Ross Jr. pleads guilty in abduction of 9-year-old girl from New York park

Suspect pleads guilty in kidnapping of 9-year-old girl from New York park
Suspect pleads guilty in kidnapping of 9-year-old girl from New York park 01:25

SARATOGA COUNTY, N.Y. -- Craig N. Ross Jr. has pleaded guilty to kidnapping and sexually assaulting a 9-year-old girl who went missing from a park in upstate New York

Ross Jr., 46, pleaded guilty to kidnapping and predatory sexual assault against a child. Under the deal, prosecutors are seeking 25 years to life for kidnapping and 22 years to life for sexual assault.

This comes just a few weeks before his trial would have begun.

The district attorney calls it a victory for the family, whose daughter will now not have to give testimony in the courtroom.

"His admission of guilty ends the question of who was responsible for the kidnapping that rallied our entire community together to assist in locating her. He will serve decades in prison before any parole consideration is available to him," Saratoga County DA Karen Heggen said. 

The girl's disappearance last year captured the nation's attention. She went missing on Sept. 30, 2023, after going for a bike ride with friends at Moreau Lake State Park, north of Albany. She went for one more ride alone and vanished. Her parents started searching for her and found her abandoned bike. 

After an intense manhunt, the girl was found two days later hidden in a cabinet inside a trailer behind the suspect's mother's home.  

Authorities tracked Ross down after his fingerprints were found on a ransom note that was delivered to the girl's family. 

He previously pleaded not guilty after being charged with kidnapping, predatory sexual assault, sexual abuse, assault, and endangering the welfare of a child.

"He pled guilty because he is guilty, and that makes us able to say today, this case is concluded, absent the sentencing. There's no question that he's the person who did this," Heggen said.

Ross will be sentenced in April. He's facing 47 years to life in prison, which means he will not be eligible for parole before his 93rd birthday.

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