Police Looking At Cold Case Murders Of 2 Teens After Kidnapping Of 9-Year-Old New York Girl
Detectives believe “there is a strong possibility” the two women’s deaths could trace back to one still-unidentified suspect.
Saratoga County Sheriff's Office [left]; New York State Police [right]
The upstate New York suspect in the recent kidnapping of a young girl is now also being investigated for any possible ties to the cold-case murders of two teenagers that date back decades, according to officials.
Around 6 p.m. on Oct. 1, 2023, Charlotte Sena was riding her bicycle at Moreau Lake State Park when she disappeared. After the 9-year-old girl’s family found her bike, they called 911 and reported her missing.
Police got a break in the case the following day. Just after 4 a.m. on Oct. 2, Craig Nelson Ross Jr., 46, allegedly drove to the child’s house and hand-delivered to the family’s mailbox a ransom note demanding $50,000, the Union Times reported.
Forensic analysts lifted a fingerprint from the note, and Ross came up as a match once detectives ran it through a database since he had an arrest dating back to 1999 for driving while intoxicated in Saratoga Springs, according to the publication.
State Police investigators determined Ross had been “in the area of the Moreau Lake State Park around the time Charlotte went missing,” the New York Times reported.
Around 6:30 p.m. the same evening Ross is accused of delivering the note, a SWAT team arrested him at his mother’s home in a mobile home park in Milton, a town about 14 miles away from the kidnapped child’s house. Officers located Sena in a cupboard cabinet in a camper trailer parked on the property. Police said she appeared to be physically uninjured.
Ross was arrested and was being held without bail at Saratoga County Jail. He later pleaded not guilty to a felony first-degree kidnapping charge, the New York Times reported.
“We are thrilled that she is home,” Sena’s family said in a statement to CBS News. “And we understand that the outcome is not what every family gets.”
According to officials, investigators are now scrutinizing Ross in connection with the 2003 and 2005 murders of two teenagers, Jennifer Marie “Moonbeam” Hammond, 18, and 19-year-old Christina White, the Times Union reported.
“At this time, we have no information to indicate that he was or was not involved,” Saratoga County Sheriff’s Investigator Matthew Robinson said, according to the outlet. “I can tell you that one of the investigative steps that we will take with regards to the ongoing investigation around Mr. Ross will be any association he has with any major case in the area. And that is something that we are actively working on.”
Robinson, who reportedly is the lead investigator on the Hammond and White cases, added there is currently “no information to indicate that he is involved” in the women’s deaths.
Hammond and White reportedly both were last seen alive near the mobile home park where Ross has his trailer and the area his family has called home for decades.
Hammond, a door-to-door magazine salesperson from Littleton, Colorado, vanished on Aug. 30, 2003. Coworkers reported dropping her off at Creek and Pines Mobile Home Park in Milton, which was near Ross’ mother’s home, where he and the kidnapping victim, Sena, were tracked down, according to the Times Union.
In 2009, a hunter stumbled upon skull fragments and three teeth belonging to Hammond near Lake Desolation in Greenfield. An autopsy determined the teenager had been stabbed to death, police said.
White was last seen walking on a road after leaving her family’s residence in the Saratoga Village mobile home park in Milton around 10 p.m. on June 30, 2005. In March 2006, a hunter in Daketown State Forest in Greenfield discovered her remains in an area just miles away from where Hammond’s body was located.
The Times Union reported that Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo has said detectives believe “there is a strong possibility” the two women’s deaths could trace back to one still- unidentified suspect due to the locations they were each last seen alive and where their bodies were found.