Following their arrests, Stephen Howells II, 39, and Nicole Vaisey, 25, both of Hermon, in northern New York, were charged on the evening of Aug. 15 in connection with the kidnapping of two Amish sisters, ages seven and 12, from a roadside farm stand in Oswegatchie on Wednesday. The kidnapping charges stipulated that the couple “intended to physically harm or sexually abuse” the girls. Howells and Vaisey were not permitted to enter pleas and were ordered to be held without bond, according to ABC News.
Sheriff Kevin Wells with the St. Lawrence County Sheriff's Office credited the older sister with providing the "crucial information" that ultimately led to the arrests of the alleged kidnappers. A release from the sheriff’s office last night stated that the apprehension of the kidnappers “no doubt saved young children from future abuse." The two sisters have since been identified as Delila and Fannie Miller.
District Attorney Mary Rain isn’t sharing much in the way of a motive for the kidnappings or many details regarding Howells and Vaisey - except to say information gleaned from the victims helped lead to the identification and arrests of the two suspects - who live only about 13 miles away from the Amish sisters. "The suspects agreed to go to the sheriff's office to be interviewed earlier today and they were arrested after those interviews," Rain said.
The search for the two girls was impeded somewhat due to the Amish way which precludes their use of technology and not having any available photographs of the girls. The family of the kidnap victims worked with a sketch artist to produce a drawing of the older sister, but would not allow a drawing to be produced of the younger sister. After being abducted Wednesday evening in their hometown farming community located not too far from the Canadian border, the two sisters “turned up safe about 24 hours later at the door of a house 15 miles from where they were taken.” The girls were dropped off in the small town of Richville on Thursday around 8 p.m., according to The Daily News.
"The children seemed to be healthy, a little wet and cold," the prosecutor said earlier Friday. “The children knocked on the door of a stranger. The stranger brought them home to their house and the police were there waiting."
Police are now scouring the home of Howells and Vaisey where the girls were held hostage for about 24 hours. The alleged kidnappers, each facing two counts of first-degree kidnapping, have a preliminary hearing scheduled for Aug. 21. They both could be looking at 25 years to life in prison if convicted. For more on the safe return of the Amish girls, see the video accompanying this article.