August 16, 2014 in Nation/World

Couple arrested in Amish girls’ abduction

Sisters, 7 and 12, found 15 miles from home
George M. Walsh Associated Press
 

ALBANY, N.Y. – A northern New York couple was arrested Friday in the kidnapping of two Amish sisters from their family’s roadside farm stand.

St. Lawrence County’s District Attorney Mary Rain said Stephen Howells II, 39, and Nicole Vaisey, 25, both of Hermon, were each charged with two counts of first-degree kidnapping. She said they were in custody awaiting arraignment Friday night and additional charges are possible.

Rain declined to discuss a motive for the abduction or provide any other specifics about the suspects. She said information provided by the girls helped lead to Howells and Vaisey. The suspects’ home is about 13 miles from where the girls live.

The sisters vanished Wednesday evening in Oswegatchie, touching off a massive search in the farming community near the Canadian border.

They turned up safe Thursday night at the door of a house 15 miles from their home.

Authorities had been tight-lipped about details, including what happened to 7-year-old Delila Miller and 12-year-old Fannie Miller while they were missing. Rain said Friday she would not release more details before a news conference with the county sheriff today.

Searchers had scoured the farming community of about 4,000 people, in a hunt hampered by a lack of photos of the girls for authorities to circulate. 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.

The girls are among the youngest of Mose and Barb Miller’s 13 children, who range in age from 1 to 21 years old. The girls routinely took on the chore of selling the fruits, vegetables, jams and other products of the farm and had left the rest of their family during evening milking when they saw the car at the stand.

The episode left a sense of vulnerability in a community where residents said even small children often walk unaccompanied to school.

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