7:17am

Mon August 18, 2014
Regional Coverage

More charges expected against couple accused of kidnapping North Country girls

More charges are expected this week against a St. Lawrence County couple who allegedly kidnapped two Amish girls.

Police gathered potential evidence from the home of Stephen Howells II and Nicole Vaisey of Hermon Sunday. The pair was arrested Friday night on charges of first-degree kidnapping with intent to harm two Amish girls, ages 6 and 12.

The girls were captured when they attended to what they thought were clients of their roadside vegetable stand at their family farm Wednesday night near Heuvelton. They were set free by their kidnappers about 24 hours later and turned up safe at a house about 15 miles away in Richville.

At a Saturday morning press conference, St. Lawrence County Sheriff Kevin Wells said Howells and Vaisey didn’t know the children. But he alleged they were prowling for easy targets.

"They were targeting opportunities," said Wells. "It wouldn’t have had to been just an Amish child. The motive was to victimize, to take these girls from their home and victimize these girls."

St. Lawrence County district attorney Mary Rain later said that, “interviews with the girls and the suspects” provided evidence the children had been sexually assaulted.

A preliminary court hearing for Howells and Vaisey is scheduled for Thursday in the St. Lawrence County town of Fowler.