A man suspected in the snatching of a nine-year-old girl from a New York camp ground has pleaded not guilty after making an appearance in court.
Craig Ross Jr was charged with kidnapping Charlotte Sena last month, after she was found hidden in a cabinet inside his trailer in the backyard of his mother’s property.
The nine-year-old had gone missing after riding her bike around Moreau Lake State Park in September.
In Saratoga County Court earlier today, Ross pleaded not guilty to the charge of 1st degree kidnapping. Which carries a maximum sentence of 25 years to life.
According to Times Union, he was also charged with multiple counts of predatory sexual assault against a child.
Ross was arrested by officers after allegedly leaving a ransom note in the mailbox of the Sena family home, with fingerprints said to match a 1999 DUI charge for him.
In Saratoga County Court earlier today, Ross, left, pleaded not guilty to the charge of 1st degree kidnapping
Ross was arrested by officers after allegedly leaving a ransom note in the mailbox of the Sena family home, with fingerprints said to match a 1999 DUI charge for him
Nine-year-old Charlotte, seen here, had gone missing after riding her bike around Moreau Lake State Park in September
After his appearance in court, Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen said that Ross would be held to account for his alleged behavior.
Heggen said: ‘We will do it thoroughly and completely because of the work that has been done and continues to be done by law enforcement to hold this defendant who has committed a heinous terrible offense against a tender aged victim.
‘We will hold him accountable and responsible.’
Charlotte was cycling alone on Loop A of Moreau Lake State Park in New York near Saratoga Springs when she vanished.
She had been cycling with friend and relatives, but said she wanted to do ‘one final loop’ alone before returning to camp.
It should have only taken a few minutes for to complete the small loop but her parents realized she hadn’t returned and grew worried.
Ross, seen here in an earlier mugshot, allegedly left a ransom note at the Sena family home
Her parents then called authorities after discovering her bike on the trail, with authorities scouring the 6,250-acre park and found no sign of her.
After Charlotte disappeared, a multi-agency search spanning 46 miles was launched and included 400 personnel from federal, state, and local bodies on the ground.
After Ross allegedly left the ransom note, in which he demanded $50,000, police managed to match fingerprints and swooped on his mother’s trailer in Milton.
Law enforcement sources also claimed at the time that he forced her to write her own ransom note.
Two SWAT teams – one state and one federal – swooped on the property in helicopters, with Ross said to have put up a struggle.
Ross, who appeared disheveled in an earlier mugshot released by New York State Police, was described as a ‘recluse’ who would care for his 11-year-old daughter for half of the week at his $180,000 three-bedroom home.
Charlotte was taken to Albany Medical Center Hospital after being found, with officials saying that she was in good physical health following the ordeal.
After the young girl was found, her mother Trisha and father David said: ‘We’re thrilled.
‘A huge thank you to the FBI, the New York State police, all of the agencies that were mobilized, all of the families, friends, community, neighbors and hundreds of volunteers who supported us and worked tirelessly to bring Charlotte home.’
Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen, pictured here, said that Ross would be held to account for his alleged behavior
Charlotte Sena was found ‘alive and safe’ – two days after she was snatched from Moreau Lake State Park in Gansevoort
Charlotte (far right) as a younger child with her mother Trisha, father David and sisters
Ross had a limited criminal history before being charged with kidnapping Charlotte, first being arrested in 1999 on a DWI case which helped lead to his arrest.
He was handed a conditional discharge after pleading guilty, and was handed a $325 fine, as well as suspending his license for 90 days, according to court records.
In 2016, officers from Saratoga Springs police charged him with aggravated harassment, though the outcome of the case is unclear.
Ross also suffers from multiple sclerosis and had just moved to the trailer that officers raided four weeks prior.