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

Craig N. Ross Jr. pleaded guilty in February to taking the girl Sept. 30 from a campground at Moreau Lake State Park, a rural area about 35 miles (60 kilometers) north of Albany.

The child had been riding on a bike path with friends at the campground near her home on a Saturday evening when she went to take one last lap of the path on her own and didn’t return.

The disappearance sparked a two-day search involving more than 100 people before the girl was found alive in a cabinet at a camper Ross was staying in.

The break in the case came when law enforcement guarding the girl’s home saw someone place a ransom note in its mailbox. Police eventually matched fingerprints on the note to Ross, who was in the database because of a 1999 drunk driving case, and state police and an FBI SWAT team then descended on the camper.

Ross, who had previously been scheduled to stand trial this month, was sentenced to a minimum of 25 years to life in prison for the kidnapping charge and 22 years to life 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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