Two arrested, charged with kidnapping North Country Amish girls

Aug 16, 2014

Saturday, 10 a.m. update:

Police provided a few more details on the two people arrested and charged with kidnapping two Amish girls Wednesday. 

Stephen M. Howells II, 39, and Nicole F. Vaisey, 25, were arrested Friday and were charged with first-degree kidnapping and are currently being held at the St. Lawrence County jail without bail.

During a Saturday morning news conference, St. Lawrence County Sheriff Kevin Wells said, "the motive was to take these girls from their home and to victimize these girls."

Previous reports indicated that Howelss and Vaisey spent time planning the abduction but police do not believe the victims were specifically targeted. 

North Country Public Radio reported that the girls did not escape, but were apparently released by Howells and Vaisey on Thursday, but police did not say why they were released. Once free, the girls went to a nearby home and asked for help. 

WWNY reported that neither Howells nor Vaisey have been arrested before. Howells was employed as a registered nurse, while Vaisey was working as a pet groomer. 

The FBI is assisting in the investigation and say federal charges are possible. That will be determined once the investigation into the kidnapping is complete. 

Our original post:

Two people have been arrested and charged with kidnapping two Amish girls from their St. Lawrence County home Wednesday evening, triggering a statewide Amber Alert. 

According to the St. Lawrence County Sheriff's Office, Stephen M. Howells II, 39, and Nicole F. Vaisey, 25, have been charged with first-degree kidnapping and are currently being held without bail. Police say the couple kidnapped  the two sisters Wednesday evening from their family's roadside farmstand in the Town of Oswegatchie.

The girls were returned home Thursday night after allegedly being dropped off by the couple in Richville, about 15 miles from where they were taken. 

The Associated Press reports that the Howells and Vaisey were interviewed at the sheriff's office Friday afternoon and were arrested after those interviews. 

In a news release, St. Lawrence County Sheriff's deputies credit the 12-year-old with providing crucial information leading to the arrest of Howells and Vaisey. According to WWNY, federal charges will likely be filed against the couple as well. More information is expected to be provided at a news conference Saturday morning.