Amish

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

A St. Lawrence County couple, accused of kidnapping two Amish sisters, has been indicted on federal child sexual exploitation and child pornography charges. The indictment shows that the pair is also accused of exploitation of a third child.

Twenty-five-year-old Nicole Vaisey and 39-year-old Stephen Howells, Jr. already face state charges for allegedly kidnapping the sisters from their rural family farm stand in St. Lawrence County last month. A five-count federal indictment handed down this week also accuses the couple of sexual exploitation of another girl starting in 2012.  

St. Lawrence County Sheriff's Office

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.

St. Lawrence County Sheriff's Office

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."

Sarah Harris/Innovation Trail

St. Lawrence County may be losing population, but there's one group that keeps growing: Old Order Amish. They've moved to northern New York because of cheap, available farmland. But in order to maintain their lifestyle, the Amish need a market for the milk the produce. So they've turned to an unlikely partner: dairy co-op Agri-Mark. 

Drive down some roads in the county, and it’s like stepping back in time. Traffic comes from buggies, not cars. Children in dark clothes and straw hats and bonnets play in neatly kept farm yards.