2014-08-21 00:01:21 UTC
kidnapping of two young Amish sisters were prowling for easy
targets and sexually abused the girls before letting them go,
The couple were arrested and arraigned Friday on charges of
kidnapping with the intent to physically or sexually abuse the 7-
year-old and 12-year-old sisters.
St. Lawrence County District Attorney Mary Rain said Saturday
that the girls were sexually abused, and the county sheriff said
Stephen Howells Jr. and Nicole Vaisey may have planned to abduct
"We felt that there was the definite potential that there was
going to be other victims," St. Lawrence County Sheriff Kevin
Howells, 39, and Vaisey, 25, are being held without bail and
have a preliminary court appearance scheduled Thursday.
The sheriff said the Hermon couple "were targeting
opportunities" and did not necessarily grab the girls because
they were Amish.
"There was a lot of thought process that went into this," Wells
said. "They were looking for opportunities to victimize."
The sisters were abducted Wednesday from a farm stand in front
of the family's home in Oswegatchie, near the Canadian border.
They were set free by their captors about 24 hours later and
turned up safe at the door of a house 15 miles from where they
Vaisey's lawyer, Bradford Riendeau told The New York Times that
Howells had abused Vaisey and treated her submissively. He said
she made a "voluntary statement" to investigators after her
arrest and was obtaining an order of protection against him.
"She appears to have been the slave and he was the master,"
Riendeau told the newspaper.
There was no answer Saturday at the St. Lawrence County Conflict
Defender's Office, which is representing Howells.
Wells said the girls were able to provide details to
investigators about their time in captivity.
The Associated Press generally does not identify people who may
be victims of sexual abuse.
The kidnappings touched off a massive search in the family's
remote farming community. Searchers scoured the community of
about 4,000 people, but were hampered by a lack of photos of the
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