A couple accused of kidnapping two Amish sisters in northern New York may have been planning to snatch other children, police said.
Stephen Howells Jr, 39, and Nicole Vaisey, 25, were arrested on Friday and charged with two counts of first-degree kidnapping with the intent of physically harming or sexually abusing the two girls.
Their alleged victims, Delila and Fannie Miller, aged seven and 12, were found unharmed at a house 13 miles from their family’s farm in Oswegatchie on Thursday night.
St Lawrence County Sheriff Kevin Wells told a news conference on Saturday: “We felt that there was the definite potential that there was going to be other victims.”
The sheriff said the couple did not necessarily grab the girls because they were Amish.
“There was a lot of thought process that went into this,” Sheriff Wells said. “They were looking for opportunities to victimise.”
He said additional charges may be filed against the couple, who are being held without bail.
The two girlsknocked on the door of a house in Richville seeking help.
They vanished the night before while serving customers at their family’s roadside farm stand.
The rest of the family were in a barn, tending to the evening milking.
A witness told police a white four-door car drove up, and when it left both girls were gone.
A state-wide Amber Alert was issued, but the hunt was hampered because the Amish do not take photographs, so there were no images of the girls.
Police said the motive of the two suspects, from Hermon, St Lawrence County, was “to take these girls from their home and victimise these girls”.