Thursday, 18 April 2024 14:55

Man Who Kidnapped and Assaulted 9-Year-Old Sentenced to 47-Year Jail Term

Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen and members of law enforcement address the media outside Saratoga County Court on April 17, 2024. Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen and members of law enforcement address the media outside Saratoga County Court on April 17, 2024. Photo by Thomas Dimopoulos.

BALLSTON SPA — “Your happiness is now taken away from you, like my happiness was taken from me. But I have no fear of you anymore. We are moving in different directions.”

The words of the 9-year survivor of a kidnapping and assault that occurred last fall echoed across a packed Saratoga County courtroom April 17, after the reading of her victim impact statement. 

Craig N. Ross Jr., the 47-year-old man who abducted the girl, was sentenced to serve 47 years-to-life in state prison, after pleading to kidnapping in the first-degree, and predatory sexual assault against a child.

Offered the opportunity to express remorse in front of the girl’s family, Ross declined to do so. 

The girl was with her family and enjoying a bike ride in Moreau Lake State Park when Ross approached and asked her to help him find something in his truck.

“What began as an idyllic day on September 30, 2023 turned into a living nightmare,” Saratoga County Judge James A. Murphy III told the packed courtroom where about 100 people wedged into eight long pew-like rows - more than one dozen uniformed members of law enforcement and Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen, among them. 

Once in reach, Ross snatched the girl, taking off with her in his truck and confining her in the kitchen cabinet of his camper after he reached his destination in Milton. 

“Ross began a pattern of sexual, emotional and physical abuse so horrific that this court dare not speak of the details,” Judge Murphy said.

“Because of you I can’t sleep at night. Why did you do what you did?” reads the girl’s victim impact statement. “It bothered me that you took advantage of me being nice.”

Ross was arrested Oct. 2, following the issue of an AMBER alert, and the discovery of a ransom note left in the family mailbox of the abducted girl’s home. Fingerprints on the letter were entered into the New York State database and a match was made involving a DWI in 1999 in Saratoga Springs. 

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The subsequent investigation led authorities to the camper in Milton where the girl was located by state police, and Ross taken into custody. 

“This case drew national and international attention because quite simply it shocks the conscience,” Judge Murphy said, while announcing the 47-year sentence based on the two felony charges. 

The girl’s mother read her own statement inside the courtroom. “There will never be a sentence that will be sufficient for what you did to my daughter,” she said, her voice cracked with emotion, her hands tensely turning over a tissue in her hands. 

“I don’t understand why people like you do the things you do,” the mother continued. “You took something from my daughter that cannot be replaced. And I don’t forgive you for that. You don’t deserve forgiveness.”

Ross, wearing a green flannel shirt and shackles that wrapped around his torso, stared at a fixed spot in the distance where a vacant table stood, visually expressing no emotion and saying little. 

“You probably hope that this will affect me the rest of my life,” reads the girl’s statement. “I was in prison for 2-1/2 days and now you will be in prison for 47 years. You will crumble and I will be standing tall.”

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