Health and Wellness

Craig N. Ross Jr. Sentenced for Kidnapping 9-Year-Old Girl at Campground in Upstate New York

BALLSTON SPA, New York — A man was sentenced Wednesday to 47 years to life in prison for kidnapping and sexually assaulting a 9-year-old girl who disappeared from a state park in upstate New York last year.

Craig N. Ross Jr. pleaded guilty in February to taking the girl in September from a campground in Moreau Lake State Park, a rural area about 35 miles (60 kilometers) north of Albany. The disappearance sparked a 48-hour search that ended when she was found alive in a caravan where Ross was staying.

FILE – Police secure the entrance to Moreau Lake State Park as the search continues for a missing 9-year-old girl who had been camping with her family, Oct. 2, 2023, in Gansevoort, New York.

AP Photo/Michael Hill, File

“Because of you, I can’t sleep at night,” the girl, who was not present, said in a statement read in court by Saratoga County Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer L. Buckley. “They imprisoned me for two and a half days and now you will be imprisoned for 47 years.”

Judge James A. Murphy III also issued a protective order for the girl so that Ross cannot contact her in person or by mail.

Ross, 47, was handcuffed when he entered the courtroom and appeared to show little emotion during the sentencing. He refused to speak.

Some of the little girl’s relatives also spoke directly with Ross in court before the sentence was announced.

“What kind of person wakes up in the morning and decides to steal someone’s child? What kind of monster does that?” The little girl’s uncle said as he looked at Ross, who was looking down.

The Associated Press typically does not identify victims in sexual abuse cases and for that reason does not reveal the uncle’s name.

The girl had been walking along a bike path with friends at the campground near her home on the night of September 30 when she went for one last ride alone on the trail and did not return.

More than 100 people searched for her. A break in the case came when law enforcement guarding the girl’s home saw someone place a ransom note in her mailbox.

Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen told reporters she was pleased with the sentence after the hearing.

“The family heard this defendant say that he is guilty of this crime. He admitted that he had committed it, and those who should have been called to testify were spared having to relive that trauma,” he said.

Ross, who had previously stood trial this month, was sentenced to a minimum of 25 years to life in prison for the kidnapping charge and 22 years to life in prison for predatory sexual assault of a child, with the sentences to be served consecutively.


Maysoon Khan is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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