Amish Kidnapping Presents Unique Challenge For Police

A couple was charged with kidnapping two Amish girls in New York, but not before police faced some unusual obstacles.

Amish Kidnapping Presents Unique Challenge For Police
St. Lawrence County Sheriff

A dramatic ending in the case of two young Amish girls allegedly kidnapped from their family farm in upstate New York.

Authorities say they arrested two people Friday night in connection with Wednesday's abduction.

According to the St. Lawrence County district attorney, 39-year-old Stephen Howells II and his girlfriend, 25-year-old Nicole Vaisey, were questioned by police then both charged with first-degree kidnapping. (Video via ABC)

The county sheriff's office issued a bold statement obtained by several major news outlets later that night. "The arrest of the two persons have with no doubt saved young children from future abuse at the hands of these two."

Seven-year-old Delia Miller and 12-year-old Fannie Miller were reported missing Wednesday night after a car reportedly pulled up to their family's farm stand. CBS reports the girls were serving customers there while the rest of the family was in the barn.

According to The Syracuse Post-Standard, police said during a news conference Saturday the sisters were apparently "released" by Howells and Vaisey before another couple found them and brought them back to their parents Thursday.

The district attorney told reporters the two girls helped lead authorities to Howells and Vaisey. But before the sisters were found, police faced some unique obstacles during their investigation.

Because the Amish typically avoid modern technology, the family didn't have any photographs of the girls to give to police. Instead, they worked with an artist to produce this sketch of the oldest sister. 

One state police officer in Pennsylvania told local station WWCP investigations in the Amish community often prove to be much more difficult.

TROOPER ROBERT KUNSMAN, PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE: "The Amish community pretty much dresses the same and it's a very difficult situation to handle. People remember a photo more than a description they get across the radio or something, so when a photo is put out, people remember faces."

As a description from the PA Dutch Convention & Visitors Bureau notes, Amish traditions don't bar them from helping police. 

And fortunately, thanks in part to the cooperation of the Amish community in New York, the missing girls are safe at home. It's still unclear exactly what happened to them while they were missing. (Video via WNYW)

As for their accused kidnappers, Howells and Vaisey appeared in court with lawyers Friday, but they weren't allowed to enter a plea. They are currently being held in jail without bond, and a preliminary hearing is scheduled for Thursday.