The abducted Amish girls' dad has a message for the two suspects that kidnapped, starved and sexually abused his two young girls – I feel sorry for you. The candid admission came just two days after the girls – aged 12 and 7 – were released and returned home following their tortuous 24-hour ordeal.
Writes The Associated Press via MSN News on Monday: “The father of two Amish girls abducted in northern New York last week said he feels sorry for the two people authorities say kidnapped and sexually abused his daughters. The parents of the 7- and 12-year-old sisters spoke… two days after Stephen Howells Jr. and Nicole Vaisey were charged with kidnapping with the intent to physically or sexually abuse the girls.”
“It's sad,” said the 44-year-old Amish father of 14. “They must have ruined their whole life.”
Delila Miller and her older sister Fannie were abducted last Wednesday near their family home in Heuvelton, approximately 50 miles south of the Canadian border. The girls were snatched by Howells, 39, and Vaisey, 25, who were prowling Amish country in upstate New York. The girls were snatched from a roadside farm stand.
An Amber Alert was issued for the girls, taken by the couple in a white, 4-door sedan. Delila and Fannie were released 24 hours later, apparently abandoned along a road in Richville, about 15 miles from their home.
“The children walked up to a home, knocked on the door of a stranger,” St. Lawrence County District Attorney Mary Rain said. “The stranger brought them home to their house and police were waiting.”
Investigators have since concluded that the girls were assaulted sexually by Howells and Vaisey.
Reports the Los Angeles Times:
Howell and Vaisey are "charged with kidnapping the girls. Rain said Howell and Vaisey had been charged with first-degree kidnapping rather than sexual assault because in New York the first-degree charge applies if kidnapping victims suffer an injury or sexual assault."
Writes the AP report:
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 parents, who have 14 children, did not express anger toward the suspects.
A 19-year-old sister told the newspaper group, which includes the Watertown Daily Times, that her younger siblings were not speaking much about their ordeal. The mother said that she is grateful to have her girls back home but that daily life has not returned to normal.
"We feel relieved we have them," the mother said. "It's still not like it was."
The Amish approach to forgiveness predisposes them to absolve, even while the tragedies are still fresh. While some may come to a place of forgiveness after months or years, if at all, Amish teachings centered on the Bible yield to Divine principles of loving one’s neighbor, praying for those persecuting you and leaving vengeance in the hands of God alone.
Perhaps nowhere was this seen more than the 2006 Amish school shooting, where forgiveness and reconciliation by those in the Amish community was widely discussed in the national media.