Investigators say at 4:20am Monday a car pulled up to the mailbox of the Sena family home and someone put a ransom note inside. Fingerprints were taken off the note which matched a suspect, 47 y/o Craig Nelson Ross Jr. Investigators found the suspect in a camper on property owned by his mother. Charlotte was found in a cabinet inside the camper. Craig Nelson Ross Jr. was taken and into custody after some resistance.
On October 2, 2023, through the course of the investigation, State Police identified an individual as being in the area of the Moreau Lake State Park around the time Charlotte went missing.
Further investigation led to the search of multiple residences where the individual is known to reside.
Upon the search of those residences, at approximately 6:32 p.m. on October 2, 2023, State Police located Charlotte Sena safe and in good health. The suspect was taken into custody.
This investigation is a culmination of multiple agencies working together for the common goal of bringing this child home to her loving family.
Governor Hochul (D-NY) disclosed that a breakthrough in the case occurred at approximately 4:20 a.m. ET on Monday when the suspect drove to Charlotte’s parents’ residence and deposited a ransom note in their mailbox. It appears he assumed they were not present at home while, in fact, Charlotte’s parents were still at the campground, tirelessly searching for their daughter. The family’s residence was under surveillance by state police, but the officers had been dispatched to another call in the vicinity at the time when the suspect delivered the note.
The police conducted fingerprint testing on the document and cross-referenced law enforcement databases in hopes of finding a match. On their second attempt, they successfully identified the fingerprints on the note as belonging to 47-year-old Craig Nelson Ross, Jr. Investigators ascertained that Ross was residing in a camper situated behind his mother’s residence.
With the assistance of two SWAT teams, they executed a tactical maneuver known as a dynamic entry to gain access. Within the camper, the suspect was located. Although he resisted arrest and sustained minor injuries, he was eventually taken into custody. Charlotte was discovered concealed in a cabinet within the camper. It was evident to her that she was being rescued and in secure hands.
Charlotte seemed to be in good health, but as a precaution, she was transported to a hospital. As of Monday night, Ross was still undergoing questioning. The authorities anticipate that charges will be filed in due course. Additionally, the investigation was aided by tracking cell phone signals from individuals in the area where Charlotte was last seen. The authorities conducted checks on various cell phones that had been in close proximity to the park.
Authorities also had access to information from individuals who registered as campers in the park, as well as those who paid an entrance fee for a day visit. Law enforcement began narrowing down potential suspects using a combination of cell phone data, the presence of individuals in the park, and, ultimately, the ransom note. This convergence of factors led the authorities to a suspect and ultimately to Charlotte.
Charlotte had been on a solo bike ride when she disappeared. She was camping at Moreau Lake State Park with her family and had gone on a bike ride with close friends around dinner time. However, she did not return, according to officials.
Charlotte was last spotted at approximately 6:15 p.m. on Saturday, riding her bicycle in one of the park’s loops. According to Governor Hochul, Charlotte had completed several loops with friends and decided to do one more on her own. The loop typically takes about five minutes, as stated by the police. Around 6:45 p.m., her mother reported her as missing, after Charlotte’s bicycle was discovered in the loop without her.
Lieutenant Colonel Richard Mazzone of the New York State Police explained that, given the inability to locate her nearby, authorities were concerned that Charlotte may have been subjected to an abduction.
This is still an active investigation. More details will be shared as they become available. In addition a press briefing will be planned for tomorrow October 3, 2023. The location and time will be published to the newsroom as soon as it becomes available.