Man pleads not guilty in girl’s kidnapping in Moreau

Accused kidnapper faces judge

Accused kidnapper faces judge

NewsChannel 13 will not be reporting on all of the charges filed against Craig Ross Jr. — out of respect for the privacy of the victim and her family.

The man accused of kidnapping a 9-year-old girl from Moreau Lake State Park in September pleaded not guilty on Friday on a nine-count indictment.

Craig Ross Jr., 46, appeared in Saratoga County Court to answer charges that he kidnapped the girl, who was riding her bike at the park on Sept. 30. She was found on Oct. 2 in Ross’ mobile home on Barrett Road in Milton. Police tracked down Ross through a fingerprint on a ransom note seeking $50,000 that was left in the family’s mailbox, they said.

Ross is facing a top count of first-degree kidnapping. He also is being charged with assault for allegedly injuring the girl and endangering the welfare of a child.

Ross appeared with his defense attorney George Conway. His hair was shorter and his beard more closely cropped than his mug shot from when he was arrested. Ross was wearing a striped button-up shirt and his feet were shackled.

Ross spoke little, only to identify his birthday as March 17 and offer yes or no answers as Judge Jim Murphy arraigned him on the nine-count indictment in the courtroom filled with relatives and supporters of the little girl. 

The top count is kidnapping in the first degree, which is class A-1 felony, the state’s most serious charge. 

“The most severe sentence is an indeterminate sentence of up to 25 years to your natural life. Do you understand that?” Murphy asked.

“Yes,” Ross responded.

Murphy added that the conviction on the other counts could make for an even longer sentence. 

Assistant District Attorney Jen Buckley is representing the prosecution.

District Attorney Karen Heggen said after the arraignment that her office is committed to securing a conviction.

“What we’re looking to do is our job, and we will do well and we’ll do it thoroughly and completely, because of the work that is being done and continues to be done by law enforcement,” she said.

Heggen said the prosecution will hold Ross responsible, who she said “committed a heinous, terrible offense against a tender age victim.” A conviction of kidnapping carries a minimum sentence of 15 to 25 years in prison and a maximum of life.

The matter was adjourned until Dec. 21 at 9:30 a.m. Then, the next court date is Jan. 2, 2024 for a hearing on whether a plea deal is on the table.

A trial has tentatively been scheduled for April 1.

After Ross pleaded not guilty, the judge issued an order of protection—demanding he have no contact with the little girl. He was then sent back to Saratoga County Jail without bail.

Attorney Paul DerOhannessian told NewsChannel 13 that he was not surprised by Ross being held without bail.

“And while the defendant can bring a writ to challenge that, I think it’s going to be very difficult. In fact, we saw that in the Washington County case, how difficult it is for the defendant to challenge the denial of bail in the face of very strong evidence of guilt presented by a prosecutor,” he said referring to the case of Kevin Monahan, the Hebron man accused of shooting and killing Kaylin Gillis.