Guilty Plea From the Man Accused of Kidnapping a 9-Year-Old Girl From an Upstate New York Park

Guilty Plea From the Man Accused of Kidnapping a 9-Year-Old Girl From an Upstate New York Park
Craig N. Ross, Jr. is arraigned before Judge on charges related to the kidnapping of a 9-year-old from Moreau Lake State Park at Saratoga County Court in Ballston Spa, New York on Nov. 17, 2023. (Will Waldron/The Albany Times Union via AP)
The Associated Press

BALLSTON SPA, N.Y.—A man accused of kidnapping a 9-year-old girl from a state park in upstate New York pleaded guilty to two felony counts and faces 47 years to life in prison.

Craig N. Ross Jr. pleaded guilty Wednesday under a plea deal to first-degree kidnapping and predatory sexual assault of a child, according to the Saratoga County district attorney.

Ross was charged in the abduction of the girl on Sept. 30 from Moreau Lake State Park, located in a rural area about 35 miles (60 kilometers) north of Albany. A search involving more than 100 people ended two days later when state police troopers and an FBI SWAT team stormed a camper Ross was staying in. Rescuers found the girl alive in a cabinet.

Ross, 46, had faced additional charges of sexual abuse, assault and endangering the welfare of a child. His trial was scheduled to begin April 8.

He now faces 25 years to life in prison for first-degree kidnapping and 22 years to life for predatory sexual assault against a child when he is sentenced on April 17. The sentences will be served consecutively.

“With the guilty plea today of Craig N. Ross Jr., the victim and their family were able to hear the defendant admit his guilt to these heinous and despicable acts,” District Attorney Karen Heggen said in a prepared release. “He will serve decades in prison before any parole consideration is available to him.”

The break in the kidnapping case came after officers stationed at the girl’s home saw someone drop a ransom note in the family’s mailbox before dawn. State police matched fingerprints on the note to Ross, who was in a database because of a 1999 drunken driving case.