Two people have been arrested for the kidnapping of two Amish sisters in New York. The girls, Fannie & Delila Miller, 12 and 6 respectively, had been abducted Wednesday while selling vegetables from their family’s roadside stand, located in the rural New York town of Oswegatchie, which is near the U.S. border with Canada. Police issued an Amber Alert for the girls after a witness saw a car pull up to the vegetable stand and the girls step out of the stand to assist them. The driver then placed something in the back of the car and pulled away. When he did so, the witness noticed that the children had disappeared.
The persons arrested are from Hermon, New York, which is located about 20 miles from Oswegatchie, and have been identified as 39-year-old Stephen Howells II and 25-year-old Nicole Vaisey. They each face charges of two counts of first degree kidnapping, according to Mary Rain, District Attorney, to ABC News. Those charges carry a penalty of a minimum of 25 years in prison up to a maximum of life.
ABC News spoke with Jeff and Pam Stinson, on whose doorstep the sisters appeared on Thursday night. Both girls were wet, cold and hungry. Neither one was wearing shoes. The Stinsons immediately recognized Fannie & Delila as the Amish sisters from whom they had purchased corn in the past and who had been reported to be kidnapped the day before. The girls asked the Stinsons if they would drive them home. The couple gave the sisters grape juice and watermelon, which they devoured quickly, according to Jeff Stinson, who knew where the girls lived because of the family’s produce stand. As he was driving them home, the girls spied the red car which had been driven by the kidnappers on the side of the road and ducked to avoid being seen.
At a news conference held today regarding the sisters’ kidnapping, authorities revealed that Fannie and Delila had been dropped off near the Stinson’s home in Richville, which is approximately 15 miles from the family’s roadside stand from which the sisters had been abducted. After being left by their kidnappers, the sisters walked to the nearest home, which happened to be the Stinsons’, who had seen reports of the abduction in the news. District Attorney Rain disclosed that the sisters were still clad in their Amish clothing when they arrived at the Stinson’s house. Police would give no other details other than adding that the girls seem to be in good health and that the investigation continues.
Finding the sisters was a daunting task for authorities in the farming town with approximately 4,000 people, located north of Albany by about 150 miles. Because the Amish eschew modern technology, no pictures of the missing sisters existed and police had to call for sketch artists to create likenesses of the girls which could be distributed to the public. Due to the fact that the family speaks Pennsylvania Dutch, an artist who could communicate with them had to be located. Once found, the Miller family would only allow the artist to produce a likeness of the older sister. Fannie and Delila are among 13 children aged one to 21 years of Mose and Barb Miller. They often helped the family by selling the products of the family farm at the stand.
By Jennifer Pfalz