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Sheriff: Pair may have plotted to kidnap more kids

Amish Kidnapping Presents Unique Challenge For Police

CANTON, N.Y. (AP) -- The northern New York couple charged in the kidnapping of two young Amish sisters were prowling for easy targets and sexually abused the girls before letting them go, authorities say.

The couple were arrested and arraigned Friday on charges of kidnapping with the intent to physically or sexually abuse the 7-year-old and 12-year-old sisters.

St. Lawrence County District Attorney Mary Rain said Saturday that the girls were sexually abused, and the county sheriff said Stephen Howells Jr. and Nicole Vaisey may have planned to abduct other children.

"We felt that there was the definite potential that there was going to be other victims," St. Lawrence County Sheriff Kevin Wells said.

Howells, 39, and Vaisey, 25, are being held without bail and have a preliminary court appearance scheduled Thursday.

The sheriff said the Hermon couple "were targeting opportunities" and did not necessarily grab the girls because they were Amish.

"There was a lot of thought process that went into this," Wells said. "They were looking for opportunities to victimize."

The sisters were abducted Wednesday from a farm stand in front of the family's home in Oswegatchie, near the Canadian border. They were set free by their captors about 24 hours later and turned up safe at the door of a house 15 miles from where they were taken.

Vaisey's lawyer, Bradford Riendeau told The New York Times that Howells had abused Vaisey and treated her submissively. He said she made a "voluntary statement" to investigators after her arrest and was obtaining an order of protection against him.

"She appears to have been the slave and he was the master," Riendeau told the newspaper.

There was no answer Saturday at the St. Lawrence County Conflict Defender's Office, which is representing Howells.

Wells said the girls were able to provide details to investigators about their time in captivity.

The Associated Press generally does not identify people who may be victims of sexual abuse.

The kidnappings touched off a massive search in the family's remote farming community. Searchers scoured the community of about 4,000 people, but were hampered by a lack of photos of the girls.

The Amish typically avoid modern technology, and the family had to work with an artist who spoke their language, a German dialect known as Pennsylvania Dutch, to produce a sketch of the older girl.

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db1219 August 15 2014 at 4:50 PM

This sounds morbid. Why would anyone do anything to harm the Amish? They don't harm anyone else. They just want to be left alone to farm their lands and practice their religion.

Flag Reply +51 rate up
15 replies
Bill August 15 2014 at 5:36 PM

I hope that there's a special circle of Hell waiting for those who prey on children.

Flag Reply +49 rate up
5 replies
Jan August 15 2014 at 5:19 PM

One only 7! What's the
matter with our society?
The evil is even getting
to the most pure and
innocent people of this
Glad they are home.

Flag Reply +38 rate up
4 replies
sboore47 August 15 2014 at 5:41 PM

So glad they are home. Bless them.

Flag Reply +22 rate up
stuzzicarelli August 15 2014 at 4:52 PM

So sad for the family and community. I hope the perps are caught and dealt with ASAP.

Flag Reply +22 rate up
BRUCE August 15 2014 at 5:15 PM

Pull the trigger on this one....

Flag Reply +15 rate up
4 replies
thorrsman August 15 2014 at 4:31 PM

If the authorities do not want to talk about what happened to these girls, it was likely very ugly.

Flag Reply +14 rate up
6 replies
Steve August 16 2014 at 1:02 AM

They are a praying people, and it's plain to see that prayer worked in this case.

Flag Reply +13 rate up
5 replies
Gina August 15 2014 at 7:00 PM

The girls are only 12 and 6! I can't imagine allowing kids that young to be alone, selling food at the side of a road. It may seem like a beautiful world where they live but there's a sick idiot around every corner! I hope they catch that guy and the community can go back to their normal lives but be more careful!
It's a whole different world out there compared to here in Detroit. You don't let kids sell anything outside, door to door or at the store. Sad world for sure.. :o(

Flag Reply +12 rate up
9 replies
no1gum August 16 2014 at 10:47 AM

Whenever I've gone to Amish markets (there are several of them around Philly and South Jersey), I've found the Amish to be friendly and helpful. Many Amish families have moved from Lancaster County, PA, because they felt scrutinized (which they were) and unsafe. It makes this abduction even more sad. Most people admire the Amish way of life, and yet here were two sick people who looked on them as easy prey.

Flag Reply +9 rate up
2 replies
Jac Bryan no1gum August 16 2014 at 12:26 PM

Why bother to kidnap two girls then turn them loose a little later about 10 miles from home? How did the one person not driving manage to get both girls in the car? Did they snatch one child and the other volunteered to get in the car? Why kidnap them at all if you release them unharmed. A lot of this just doesn't make sense. Glad the girls are alright.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
no1gum no1gum August 16 2014 at 12:38 PM

To Jac Bryan - There has to be more to this story. I've found much more information at other news sites.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
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