, NEW YORK, Aug 17 – A US couple arrested and charged with kidnapping two Amish sisters intended to “victimize” the girls after snatching them from their roadside produce stand, authorities said Saturday.
The girls, who investigators said had remained “strong” in the wake of the ordeal, were taken Wednesday evening while selling fruits and vegetables in a farming community near the Canadian border in New York state.
They turned up hungry and barefoot the next day some 30 miles (50 kilometers) away in the town of Richville.
The couple had carried out the carefully planned kidnapping with a motive “to take these girls from their home and to victimize these girls,” St. Lawrence County Sheriff Kevin Wells told reporters.
He declined to provide details of the nature of the girls’ treatment.
Stephen Howells, 39, and Nicole Vaisey, 25, have so far been charged with kidnapping, but more charges are expected to follow, Wells said. They were arrested on Friday.
The sisters, Delila and Fannie Miller, aged seven and 12 respectively, told investigators “facts about their time in captivity and those details were instrumental in us being able to make the arrests,” Wells said.
The sisters turned up after being dropped off by their captors, at which point they knocked on a nearby door asking for help, he added.
An alert was issued Wednesday night after the sisters’ disappearance, but the search for the girls was hampered by the fact that the Amish sisters had no pictures.
A preliminary hearing for the couple will be held Thursday.
The Amish group of Christian church fellowships lives on the sidelines of modern society, with members attending their own schools, often speaking a German dialect, wearing traditional clothing and traveling in horse-drawn buggies.
There are around 280,000 Amish in the United States.