Friday Night: Two Charged in Amish Kidnapping
Two Town of Hermon residents were in custody Friday night, as investigators zeroed in on the alleged kidnappers of two Amish girls earlier in the week.
The two are Stephen Howells II, 39, and Nicole Vaisey, 25, of 1380 County Route 21, Town of Hermon. They were each charged with two counts of kidnapping, first degree, and were jailed after arraignment in Town of Fowler court Friday night.
A neighbor described them as boyfriend and girlfriend, and said three children also lived in the home, though authorities said Saturday the three chilren did not live there, but with another parent. (Picture from Facebook.)
Access to the part of county route 21 where they live was blocked off by St. Lawrence County Sheriff's deputies Friday afternoon and Friday night.
A law enforcement source told 7 News reporter John Friot early Friday evening that investigators were seeking a warrant to search the home.
The source said that charges in a case like the Amish kidnapping could also include federal charges.
The neighbor on county route 21 said investigators had put police tape up around the house. The neighbor also noted a white car was on the property; earlier in the week, authorities were looking for a white car in connection with the kidnapping.
In addition, the neighbor saw a red car leave the house Friday afternoon, accompanied by a law enforcement officer's vehicle. Thursday, investigators said a red car might also be involved in the kidnapping.
On Howells' Facebook page, a picture shows a red car and a white car in the background of a pasture.
A red car was being watched by a sheriff's deputy near the sheriff's department Friday night; later, a tow truck was brought in to remove the vehicle. It was not known whether it was the same car as the one seen on county route 21.
The neighbor said Howells owns the home on county route 21. Howells is said to be an employee of Claxton-Hepburn Hospital in Ogdensburg.
The two were being questioned during the afternoon and evening Friday about the kidnapping of Fannie Miller, 12, and her sister, Delila Miller, 6, who were abducted Wednesday night while tending the family's vegetable stand on county route 812, just outside of Heuvelton.
Asked if they were cooperating with investigators, Sheriff Kevin Wells said "I wouldn't say they're cooperative. They're here, they came in and submitted to questioning, and through the questioning they were taken into custody."
In a turn of events that is still not fully understood, the girls were apparently driven to a home outside of Richville Thursday night, and told to stay put. They didn't and went to a neighbor, who recognized them as the kidnapped children and returned them to their home.
Friday, February 12, 2016, Watertown, NY
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