More charges planned against Amish-kidnap suspects

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A pair of investigators walk on the property of Stephen Howells II and Nicole F. Vaisey, in Hermon, N.Y., Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014. Vaisey and Howells were arrested Friday on charges of first-degree kidnapping with the intent to physically harm or sexually abuse the victims. (AP Photo/Watertown Daily Times, Melanie Kimber Lago) MANDATORY CREDIT, SYRACUSE OUT

A pair of investigators walk on the property of Stephen Howells II and Nicole F. Vaisey, in Hermon, N.Y., Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014. Vaisey and Howells were arrested Friday on charges of first-degree kidnapping with the intent to physically harm or sexually abuse the victims. (AP Photo/Watertown Daily Times, Melanie Kimber Lago) MANDATORY CREDIT, SYRACUSE OUT

St. Lawrence County Sheriff Deputy Kevin M. Wells, second left, addresses the media on Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014, outside the St. Lawrence County Courthouse in Canton, N.Y. Wells briefed the media on the arrest of suspected kidnappers Stephen M. Howells II and Nicole F. Vaisey. The couple have been accused of abducting a pair of young Amish sisters from a roadside stand in Oswegatchie, N.Y., on Wednesday, Aug. 13. At left is St. Lawerence County District Attorney Mary Rain. (AP Photo/Watertown Daily Times, Melanie Kimber Lago) MANDATORY CREDIT, SYRACUSE OUT

This image provided by the St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office shows the booking photo of Stephan Howells II, 39, who was arraigned late Friday Aug. 15, 2014 on charges he intended to physically harm or sexually abuse two Amish sisters after abducting them from a roadside farm stand. (AP Photo/St. Lawrence County Sheriff)

This image provided by the St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office shows the booking photo of Nicole Vaisey, 25, who was arraigned late Friday Aug. 15, 2014 on charges she intended to physically harm or sexually abuse two Amish sisters after abducting them from a roadside farm stand. (AP Photo/St. Lawrence County Sheriff)

An Amish family rides along Route 812 in Heuvelton, N.Y., near the command center at the Heuvelton Volunteer Fire Department, Friday, Aug. 15, 2014. The investigation continues into the abduction and return of two young Amish sisters who were selling vegetables at their family’s roadside stand in Oswegatchie, N.Y. Fannie and Delila were taken from the stand early Wednesday evening and turned up unharmed the next day at a home in Richville, N.Y., about 15 miles away. Taking care to not compromise a potential prosecution, authorities weren’t releasing any details about what happened to the girls during their daylong disappearance. (AP Photo/Watertown Daily Times, Jason Hunter) SYRACUSE OUT

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CANTON, N.Y. (AP) — More charges are expected soon against a northern New York couple accused of kidnapping two young Amish sisters and sexually abusing them, a prosecutor said Sunday.

Computer hard drives and other potential evidence are still being collected Sunday from the home of Stephen Howells Jr. and Nicole Vaisey, said Mary Rain, district attorney for St. Lawrence County.

The pair was arrested Friday and charged with kidnapping with the intent to physically or sexually abuse the 7-year-old and 12-year-old sisters. Authorities say the couple prowled for easy targets and sexually abused the girls before letting them go after about 24 hours.

Howells, 39, and Vaisey, 25, are being held without bail and have a preliminary court appearance scheduled for Thursday.

“I 100 percent expect more charges,” Rain told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. She said the new charges, which she would not detail, could come after she meets with police investigators Monday or at the hearing Thursday. It’s also possible prosecutors would have to wait for results from forensic tests.

The sisters were abducted Wednesday from a farm stand in front of the family’s home in Oswegatchie, near the Canadian border. They were set free by their captors about 24 hours later and turned up safe at the door of a house 15 miles from where they were taken.

There was no answer Sunday at the St. Lawrence County Conflict Defender’s Office, which is representing Howells.

Vaisey’s lawyer, Bradford Riendeau told The New York Times that she was in an abusive and submissive relationship with Howells. He said she made a “voluntary statement” to investigators after her arrest and was obtaining an order of protection against him.

“She appears to have been the slave and he was the master,” Riendeau told the newspaper.

Rain said Vaisey is just as culpable as Howells.

St. Lawrence County Sheriff Kevin Wells said the girls were able to provide details to investigators about their time in captivity.

The Associated Press generally does not identify victims of sexual abuse and is not naming the girls.

The kidnappings touched off a massive search in the family’s remote farming community. Searchers scoured the community of about 4,000 people but were hampered by a lack of photos of the girls.

The Amish typically avoid modern technology, and the family had to work with an artist who spoke their language, a German dialect known as Pennsylvania Dutch, to produce a sketch of the older girl.

Associated Press

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