The two Amish girls abducted several days ago were sexually assaulted by their captors, and, according to the St.Lawrence County District Attorney, Mary Rain. The Hermon, New York couple accused of the abduction was reported to have been looking for easy targets when they came across the sisters as they stood at a roadside vegetable stand in front of their home in Oswegatchie, New York.
The 7-year-old and 12-year-old showed up at a home 15 miles from where they were taken following a massive search for the girls in their remote farming community that has a population of around 4,000 people. The sisters are believed to have been released by their abductors under unexplained circumstances approximately 24 hours after they were captured. They knocked on the door of a home close to where they were released and that homeowner recognized them as the two Amish girls who had gone missing. The unidentified homeowner brought the girls back to their home in Oswegatchie before contacting police.
The girls are reported to be in good health and were able to give critical information to investigators that lead to the arrest of their accused abductors. The girls are being hailed as heroes in the case for their quick thinking and for remembering details that led the police to the suspects who lived approximately 30 miles from where the girls were taken.
Investigators had a rough start in the case, as there were no pictures of the two, since Amish people generally do not use modern technology and thus had no photos of the two girls. The family did, however work with a sketch artist that was able to understand and communicate with the family in their native German dialect, Pennsylvania Dutch. The sketch artist was able to complete a sketch of the oldest girl, which was released to the public to aid in the search.
The suspects are 39-year-old Stephen M. Howells II and 25-year-old Nicole F. Vaisey. Both were arrested on Friday and are being held without bail on two counts of first degree felony kidnapping charges. If the two are convicted, they could spend 25 years to life in prison. Investigators believe the couple was looking for children they could easily kidnap and sexually assault when the two Amish girls were abducted.
Investigators fear there may be additional victims. Often in cases like these victims do not come out about the crimes committed against them until their attackers are found. Additional victims may see the two on TV and report crimes committed against them as well. Kevin Wells, Sheriff of St. Lawrence County, told reporters that “there was the definite potential” that there have been additional victims and additional charges may be filed against the couple if other victims are found. In a news conference on Saturday Wells stated that the couple had carefully planned their crime and had “victimized” the girls during their time in captivity.
Vaisey and Howells lived together in their home in Hermon, New York, 30 miles from Oswegatchie where the girls live. Bradford Riendeau, an attorney for Vaisey, told reporters that the two lived together, but their relationship was “complicated.” He stated that their relationship was that of a slave and master, and that Vaisey was likely acting with Howells as such in the kidnapping and sexual assault of the two Amish girls.
By Amy Gilmore