Prosecutor: Amish girls found safe spoke to police
These images provided by the St. Lawrence County Sheriff's Office shows the booking photo of Stephen Howells II, left, and Nicole Vaisey, who was arraigned late Friday Aug. 15, 2014 on charges they intended to physically harm or sexually abuse two Amish sisters after abducting them from a roadside farm stand. (AP Photo/St. Lawrence County Sheriff)
This image provided by the St. Lawrence County Sheriff's Office shows the booking photo of Stephen Howells II, 39, who was arraigned late Friday Aug. 15, 2014 on charges he intended to physically harm or sexually abuse two Amish sisters after abducting them from a roadside farm stand. (AP Photo/St. Lawrence County Sheriff)
This image provided by the St. Lawrence County Sheriff's Office shows the booking photo of Nicole Vaisey, 25, who was arraigned late Friday Aug. 15, 2014 on charges she intended to physically harm or sexually abuse two Amish sisters after abducting them from a roadside farm stand. (AP Photo/St. Lawrence County Sheriff)
This undated artist rendering provided by the St. Lawrence County Sheriff's Office in Canton, N.Y. via the Watertown Daily Times shows 12-year-old Fannie Miller. Miller and her six-year-old sister, Delila, vanished from a roadside vegetable stand near their home in Oswegatchie, N.Y. after a white car pulled up to the farm stand on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014 around 7:30 p.m. The Amish sisters were dressed in dark blue dresses with blue aprons and black bonnets. (AP Photo/St. Lawrence County Sheriff's Office)
Two Amish sisters have been kidnapped in upstate New York. Authorities say Fannie Miller, 12, and Delila Miller, 7, were taken from this roadside farm stand about 50 miles east of Watertown. Photo courtesy of WSYR-TV
The sisters went missing at about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday evening, police said. Anyone with information is urged to call 911. Photo courtesy of WSYR-TV
Lawrence County sheriffâs deputies escort Nicole Vaisey to her preliminary hearing Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014, at town court in Fowler, N.Y. Vaisey and her boyfriend are accused of abducting and sexually abusing a pair of young Amish sisters on Wednesday, Aug. 13, before releasing them the following day. (AP Photo/Mike Virtanen)
By GEORGE M. WALSH
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- A prosecutor in northern New York says two young Amish girls found safe a day after they disappeared from their family's farm stand have given investigators information she hopes will soon lead to an arrest.
St. Lawrence County District Attorney Mary Rain says Friday she can't comment on what happened to 7-year-old Delila Miller and 12-year-old Fannie Miller, who vanished Wednesday evening after a car pulled up to their family's farm stand in Oswegatchie.
She said she doesn't want to compromise any future prosecution by releasing details.
The girls turned up unharmed Thursday evening at a house in Richville, near the Canadian border. That's about 15 miles from where they disappeared. They asked for help getting home.
Rain says the girls are healthy.
She also says the episode has left the peaceful rural community feeling vulnerable.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
The search for two missing Amish sisters who apparently were abducted from their family's roadside farm stand in northern New York ended with their safe return about 24 hours later when they were given a lift home. What happened in between hasn't been revealed publicly.
The girls, 7-year-old Delila Miller and 12-year-old Fannie Miller, were dropped off Thursday evening at a house in Richville, about 15 miles from the family farm in Oswegatchie, St. Lawrence County District Attorney Mary Rain said. Cold and wet but unharmed, they knocked on the door and asked for help getting home, she said.
A neighbor who visited the Miller family after hearing word of the girls' return said she spoke with one of their brothers, who said they were well and being checked out.
"We have the safe return of the two girls, but at the same time we have a lot of work to do," county Sheriff Kevin Wells told WWNY-TV. "There's still been a crime committed here, these girls were still taken away from their homes."
No other details were immediately available about what had happened to the girls or if authorities had identified any suspects.
"We have the sheriff's department and the FBI speaking with the young ladies," Rain said, while noting that the Amish are a "very private people."
She said investigators believe more than one person was responsible for the girls' disappearance and she was confident they would be arrested.
Word of the girls' return came shortly after about 200 people attended a candlelight prayer vigil at Cornerstone Wesleyan Church in nearby Heuvelton. They sang "Amazing Grace" and "This Little Light of Mine," read psalms and called children to the altar for a round of prayers.
Dot Simmons, a member of the congregation and neighbor of the Miller family, said despair turned to joy when she returned home from the vigil to word that the girls were safe.
She and her husband got a call saying that police scanner traffic was reporting the unexpected outcome and they drove next door to find an ambulance and one of the Millers' older sons sharing the good news.
At the nearby police command post, authorities weren't releasing any information, but the subdued atmosphere had given way to law enforcement officers exchanging smiles and high-fives.
"We are celebrating tonight, but now the real work begins," Wells said, according to the Watertown Daily Times.
Authorities initially said the sisters vanished at about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday after a light-colored car pulled up to the farm stand and they went down to tend to the customers while the rest of their family stayed at a barn for the evening milking. By Thursday night, however, they were looking for a red car.
Searchers had scoured Oswegatchie, a farming community of about 4,000 people on the Canadian border about 150 miles north of Albany, in a hunt hampered by a lack of photos of the girls for authorities to circulate. The Amish typically shun modern technology, but the family agreed to the release of a sketch of the older child, Wells said. They had to work with an artist who spoke their language, a German dialect known as Pennsylvania Dutch.
The girls are among the youngest of Mose and Barb Miller's 13 children, who range in age from 1 to 21 years, said Simmons, the neighbor. The girls routinely took on the chore of selling the fruits, vegetables, jams and other products of the farm, Simmons said.
"It's absolutely amazing," she said of their return.
St. Lawrence County is home to New York's second-largest Amish population, which has grown in the past decade because of productive land and property prices lower than in Pennsylvania
Associated Press writer Chris Carola contributed to this report.
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