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Prosecutor: Amish sisters were sexually abused during kidnapping ordeal

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The couple charged with Wednesday’s kidnapping of the two Amish girls in upstate New York, sexually abused the seven-year-old and 12-year-old sisters prior to releasing them Thursday night, according to an Aug. 17 report from Fox News. That announcement came from St. Lawrence County District Attorney Mary Rain on Aug. 16. The kidnapping suspects Stephen Howells II, 39, and Nicole Vaisey, 25, both of Hermon, in northern New York, were arraigned on charges of “of kidnapping with the intent to physically or sexually abuse” the young girls.

The kidnapping charges came immediately following the couple’s arrests on Friday night. Police in northern New York say that Howells and Vaisey “were prowling for easy targets and sexually abused the girls before letting them go,” and may have been planning on kidnapping additional children. The two Amish sisters, Delila Miller, seven, and Fannie Miller, 12, were snatched from a roadside farm stand in Oswegatchie, New York on Wednesday evening, 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 on Friday stated that the apprehension of the kidnappers “no doubt saved young children from future abuse."

Rain said that information gleaned from the two victims helped lead to the identification and arrests of the two suspects - who lived only about 13 miles away from the Amish sisters. "The suspects agreed to go to the sheriff's office to be interviewed earlier today [Friday] and they were arrested after those interviews," Rain added. Reportedly, a lawyer for Vaisey told the media that his client “apparently was submissive to Howell, like his ‘slave.’”

The frantic 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 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 alleged kidnappers released their two victims 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 have been searching the home of Howells and Vaisey where the girls were held hostage for about 24 hours in an effort to learn more about the couple. The kidnapping suspects are each facing two counts of first-degree kidnapping and have a preliminary hearing scheduled for Aug. 21. Howells and Vaisey could each be looking at 25 years to life behind bars if convicted.