Hochul: Our prayers have been answered

A ransom note left by the suspect helped track a missing 9-year-old girl down, Gov. Kathy Hochul said on Wednesday evening.

“This is a very good day,” said Hochul.

Hochul thanked investigators through tears as she reiterated the joyful news that Charlotte Sena, 9, had been found alive.

“It’s been a long two days, but tonight, our prayers have been answered,” said Hochul. “We’re overcome with relief and gratitude for this gift to all of us.”

Charlotte was camping with her family at West Milton State Park on Saturday evening, when she asked her family to go around one of the loops by herself one last time – and didn’t come back.

911 was called and searchers immediately began looking for the young girl.

An Amber Alert was issued on Saturday morning, as hundreds of searchers descended on the area where she was last seen, and everyone who got the alerts on their phones held their breaths, waiting for any shred of evidence that Charlotte would be found alive.

“What happened was extraordinary,” Hochul said, as she described how investigators solved the case.

“Charlotte will be going home.”

Gov. Kathy Hochul

Investigators got a break in the case around 4:20 Monday morning, the governor said. That’s when a person dropped the ransom note at Charlotte’s home, which was being watched by law enforcement.

Police then traced the fingerprint on the note a couple of times, and finally found a match – a 1999 DWI arrest in the city of Saratoga.

That led them to a home on Barrett Road in Milton, where police found a house where the suspect’s mother lived, and a camper behind it.

The suspect, Craig Nelson Ross Jr., 47, was found in the camper, state police said. Charlotte was found covered up inside a cabinet around 6:30 Monday evening. Her parents were immediately notified.

Charlotte was taken to a hospital to be evaluated, and was reunited with family.

Ross has not been charged yet, said Hochul on Monday evening, but charges are fully expected.

“This is pretty overwhelming, because all of us feared the worst,” said Hochul. “But she’ll be going home. That’s the story. Charlotte will be going home.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: A prior version of the story reported that Ross is a mailman. This has since been modified, as the United States Postal Service confirms he never worked there.