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Man charged with kidnapping Amish children waives right to preliminary hearing

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HERMON — A Hermon man charged with kidnapping two Amish children has waived his right to a preliminary hearing Thursday.

Stephen M. Howells II, 39, and Nicole F. Vaisey, 25, both of 1380 County Route 21, Hermon, were each charged with two counts of first-degree kidnapping on Friday.

Mr. Howells’s attorney, St. Lawrence County Conflict Public Defender Amy L. Dona, waived her client’s right to a preliminary hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to believe he committed a felony offense. The case will now be handed up to superior court for possible grand jury action.

St. Lawrence County District Attorney Mary E. Rain said no deals had been made with Ms. Dona in exchange for her decision to waive the preliminary hearing.

“I will give them some discovery they are not entitled to right now,” she said.

Her preliminary hearing is scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday in Fowler Town Court.

Ms. Vaisey’s attorney, Bradford C. Riendeau, said Monday afternoon he is not waiving Ms. Vaisey’s right to the hearing.

A gate now blocks the driveway from access to a property that has had considerable police activity since Friday.

Meanwhile, investigators worked well into the night at the residence Sunday and were joined at the scene early Sunday evening by St. Lawrence County Sheriff Kevin M. Wells and Ms. Rain.

The investigators had been combing the property at 1380 County 21 since a search warrant was signed Friday.

The investigators focused on the couple’s home and a trailer in front of the house. Ms. Rain said Sunday that investigators were searching the home over the weekend for electronic media that will undergo a forensics examination. DNA evidence also is being gathered. She said there was a lot of evidence taken from the property to review.

Investigators have now started talking to people that have had close ties with Mr. Howells and Ms. Vaisey over the past several years.

The couple’s trailer, camper, barn and house were all searched. Investigators collected small brown paper bags of evidence and loaded them into two dark vans throughout the day on Sunday. Some of the evidence, including a computer monitor, processor and CD-ROMs, were confiscated by investigators for further forensic analysis. Investigators also took several photos inside the house.

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