In a disturbing case that unfolded in late September, an Upstate New York man, Craig Ross Jr., has been arraigned on serious charges, including first-degree kidnapping and sexual assault, in connection with the alleged abduction of a 9-year-old girl from a campsite.
Appearing in Saratoga County Court on Friday, Nov. 17, Ross pleaded not guilty to a range of charges, including first-degree kidnapping, four counts of predatory sexual assault, two counts of first-degree sexual abuse, second-degree assault, and endangering the welfare of a child. The judge ordered him to be held without bail, and if convicted, Ross could face a potential life sentence for the kidnapping charge alone.
The incident unfolded on Sept. 30 when the young girl went for a bike ride around Lake Moreau State Park at approximately 6:15 p.m. However, she never returned, prompting her parents to report her missing about 30 minutes later. The search involved over 100 law enforcement officials and personnel until the girl was discovered inside a cabinet in Ross’ home on Oct. 2.
Governor Kathy Hochul shared that on Oct. 2 at 4:20 a.m., Ross reportedly visited the girl’s home, guarded by New York State Police troopers, leaving a ransom note in the mailbox. Despite unsuccessful attempts to find a fingerprint match initially, investigators linked Ross to the case through the New York State database, tracing him to a prior incident in 1999 when he was caught driving under the influence.
Ross was located in a camper behind his mother’s residence, leading to his arrest on a charge of first-degree kidnapping. During his court hearing, Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen described the offense as “heinous” and “terrible” against a young victim.
The young girl, rescued through a “dynamic entry” tactical maneuver, knew she was in safe hands, according to Governor Hochul. The case highlights the importance of swift law enforcement action and the pursuit of justice in crimes against children.