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Who is Craig Ross? New York ‘recluse’ accused of hiding kidnapped 9-year-old in camper cabinet

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MILTON, N.Y. – The 46-year-old New York man accused of kidnapping a 9-year-old off her bicycle at Moreau Lake State Park over the weekend has a minor criminal history and was living in a camper behind his mom’s double-wide trailer.

Craig Nelson Ross Jr. pleaded guilty to drunken driving charges in 1999 — forcing him to submit fingerprint samples which on Tuesday led to his arrest in the Charlotte Sena abduction.

A ransom note, according to Gov. Kathy Hochul, was stuffed into the victims’ parents’ mailbox around 4:20 a.m. Monday as state troopers were standing guard. They ran two sets of prints, and by 2:30 p.m., identified Ross as their suspect.

But Ross’s criminal charges were relatively minor until this week.

CHARLOTTE SENA KIDNAPPING SUSPECT CRAIG ROSS JR ARRAIGNED OVERNIGHT

Craig Nelson Jr mugshot clean

Craig Ross Jr. pictured in an undated booking photo. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul identified Ross as the man suspected of kidnapping a 9-year-old girl named Charlotte Sena from a state park bicycle trail over the weekend. He was being held without bail on a first-degree kidnapping charge. (Saratoga Sheriffs Office)

Ross was arrested on Sept. 28, 1999 and received a conditional discharge the following October for a DWI case after pleading guilty and paying $325 in fines, according to court documents obtained by Fox News Digital. His driver license was suspended for 90 days.

Charlotte Sena GoFundMe photo

The Sena family released a new photo of Charlotte Sena Tuesday on a GoFundMe campaign to support the 9-year-old after New York State Police and federal tactical teams rescued her from a kidnapping suspect’s cabinet. (Sena Family/GoFundMe)

On April 21, 2017, New York State Police arrested him on a misdemeanor charge of criminal obstruction of breathing, according to a contemporary police blotter report in The Saratogian, a local newspaper. Additional details in that case were not immediately clear, and a state police spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

New York State Police search the home of Craig Nelson Ross Jr.

New York State Police collect evidence at the home of Craig Nelson Ross Jr. in Ballston Spa, New York on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023. Ross has been charged with the abduction of Charlotte Sena, a 9-year-old girl riding her bike through Moreau Lake State Park. (Hans Pennink for Fox News Digital )

CHARLOTTE SENA RESCUED FROM CAMPER CABINET, KIDNAPPING SUSPECT BUSTED AFTER LEAVING RANSOM NOTE

A year earlier, Saratoga Springs police arrested him on another misdemeanor charge — that one for aggravated harassment, according to another blotter entry. Specifics were not immediately available. The charge can range from annoying a victim over the phone to physically striking them. Police said they had no record of the incident, indicating it may have been sealed or dismissed.

Ross was involved in another police call in 2016, but there were no charges in that incident. 

baef1a97-Charlotte Sena Missing

New York State Police collect evidence at the home of Craig Nelson Ross Jr., on 2133 Barrett Road in Ballston Spa, N.Y. Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023. Ross has been charged with the abduction of Charlotte Sena, a 9-year-old girl riding her bike through Moreau Lake State Park. (Hans Pennink for Fox News Digital)

A longtime neighbor of Ross’ mother’s house said the suspect’s mom was a mean “drunk” who never let him in her home, a double-wide trailer in Milton, New York.

He asked to be only identified as “Michael.” Once, when Michael and Ross were around 10 years old, the latter cut his finger, Michael said. 

“I told him we should go to your mom for a Band-Aid,” he said. “She wouldn’t let him in, and he took this big boulder and smashed it against the door and kept smashing it.”

A photo of Charlotte Sena

In this undated photo, Charlotte Sena smiles for a photograph. Charlotte was reported missing this weekend after she failed to return from a bike ride while camping with her parents in Moreau Lake State Park. (Courtesy of the Sena Family )

She opened the door, only to hand him a Band-Aid and send him packing. They went to Michael’s mom to clean him up and put it on, he said.

Ross’ mother did not immediately respond to calls or messages seeking comment.

Ross eventually became a “recluse,” he said, and saw him so infrequently in recent years that he didn’t recognize him with the beard in his mugshot. Earlier this year, he said Ross put a tarp over the camper window facing his – which at first he thought was to cover a leak but now appears more suspicious.

New York State Police search the home of Craig Nelson Ross Jr.

New York State Police collect evidence at the home of Craig Nelson Ross Jr. in Ballston Spa, New York on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023. Ross has been charged with the abduction of Charlotte Sena, a 9-year-old girl riding her bike through Moreau Lake State Park. (Hans Pennink for Fox News Digital )

The suspected kidnapper left for what Michael presumed was work before 5 a.m. He did not know what his neighbor did for a living. The local WNYT-TV news station described him as a mailman.

County authorities said they had no additional felony records for Ross beyond the new kidnapping charges. He went through two divorce cases, and he sued a woman over a 2019 car crash, but both sides agreed to drop the case, court records show.

New York State Police search the home of Craig Nelson Ross Jr.

New York State Police collect evidence at the home of Craig Nelson Ross Jr. in Ballston Spa, New York on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023. Ross has been charged with the abduction of Charlotte Sena, a 9-year-old girl riding her bike through Moreau Lake State Park. (Hans Pennink for Fox News Digital )

On Wednesday, investigators in Tyvek jumpsuits were seen removing boxes of evidence from the camper, which is parked behind his mother’s trailer in Ballston Spa, about 23 miles south of where Charlotte had been abducted days earlier from a trail at Moreau Lake State Park.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE TRUE CRIME FROM FOX NEWS

New York State Police search the home of Craig Nelson Ross Jr.

New York State Police collect evidence at the home of Craig Nelson Ross Jr. in Ballston Spa, New York on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023. Ross has been charged with the abduction of Charlotte Sena, a 9-year-old girl riding her bike through Moreau Lake State Park. (Hans Pennink for Fox News Digital )

State and federal tactical teams raided Ross’ camper Tuesday, tossing flash bangs before arresting him despite attempts to resist capture.

“Within the camper, they located the suspect,” Hochul said during a Monday evening news briefing in Latham. “After some resistance, the suspect was taken into custody, and immediately the little girl was found in a cabinet, covered. She was rescued.”

A photo of Charlotte Sena

This police handout photo shows Charlotte Sena in the clothing she was wearing when she went missing in Moreau Lake State Park on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023. (Police handout )

State police had issued an Amber Alert Sunday, warning the child was abducted and likely in danger. They canceled it two days later after she was reunited with family at a hospital following the raid.

Hochul said it was not immediately clear whether Ross knew the Sena family before the alleged abduction, but she said he lived just miles from their home.

He is charged with first-degree kidnapping with intent to collect ransom, according to court filings.

“The defendant did abduct [the victim] and wrote a ransom letter with the intent to compel the payment of a ransom for her,” state police wrote in a felony complaint obtained by Fox News Digital.

NY Gov Kathy Hochul briefing reporters

Gov. Kathy Hochul gives her remarks after Charlotte Sena, of Greenfield, NY, was on a family outing in Moreau Lake State Park when she went missing Saturday evening and was found safe this today and a suspect is in custody Monday, Oct. 2, 2023, in Latham, N.Y.  (Hans Pennink for Fox News Digital )

He was arraigned overnight and booked into the Saratoga County Jail before dawn.

“We are thrilled that she is home and we understand that the outcome is not what every family gets,” Charlotte’s family told Fox News Digital. “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.”

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On Tuesday, Charlotte’s extended family released a new photo of the 9-year-old on their GoFundMe campaign.

As Charlotte recovers from the ordeal, her parents have taken time off work to care for her and her two sisters.

Fox News’ Ashley Papa contributed to this report.



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