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 October 9, 2023

'Small town cop' played a big role in Charlotte Sena's abduction rescue

Fox News reports that a "small-town cop" played a big role in the recent rescue of Charlotte Sena. 

In case you missed it, Sena, a nine-year-old girl from New York, went missing on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023. She disappeared during a camping trip at Moreau Lake State Park with her family.

Subsequently, it was discovered that she was allegedly taken by 46-year-old Craig Ross Jr., in what appears to have been a ransom kidnapping.

Several decades ago, Sena's grandfather received a $2.2 million award from the state as the result of a sledding accident. Ross knew about the settlement, and it is reported that he held Sena on a $50,000 ransom.

The kidnapping situation reached a climax on Monday night, when law enforcement descended on the trailer in which Ross was keeping Sena and rescued the girl.

Fox, separately, reported, "Law enforcement in full tactical gear blasted through a camper behind Ross Jr.'s mother's double-wide trailer and found Charlotte in a cabinet, Gov. Kathy Hochul said during a press conference Monday night."

Now, it turns out that a "small-town" police officer played a big role in Sena's rescue. The officer is Kristen VanWert, a 32-year veteran of the Saratoga Springs Police Department.

Fox reports that VanWert once pulled Ross over during a DUI incident that occurred in 1999.

Ross, according to the outlet, "sped around another car in downtown Saratoga Springs around midnight . . . crossing the double yellow lines and yapping away on a cellphone." Ross was discovered to have a blood alcohol content of more than double the legal limit. VanWert, thus, placed him under arrest and fingerprinted him.

This fingerprinting turned out to be the key to discovering that Ross was behind the kidnapping of Sena. It meant that his fingerprints were in the system. So, when police were attempting to discover who wrote the ransom note using fingerprints that they found on the document, they were able to match those fingerprints to Ross.

Fox reports:

The first set of prints they checked it against were not a match, Gov. Kathy Hochul said during a news briefing Monday. But the second turned out to be a match for Ross. Despite a plea deal that reduced Ross's 1999 charges to a minor infraction, a caveat in New York law specific to drunken driving cases meant his fingerprints would remain on file.

Saratoga Spring public safety commissioner James Montagnino is the one who revealed this information about VanWert's role in linking Sena's kidnapping to Ross.

Montagnino said, "This case really kind of underscores is the necessity of having a well-trained, well-funded police department at the local level. It's the little things in policing that make all the difference."

Ross is currently being held in Saratoga County Jail without bail.

Written By:
Robert Ayers

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