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District attorney seeks DNA samples in Amish kidnapping case

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CANTON — A hearing has been scheduled for Sept. 10 after St. Lawrence County District Attorney Mary E. Rain filed a motion seeking to have DNA samples submitted by the Hermon couple charged with kidnapping and sexually assaulting two Amish children earlier this month.

Ms. Rain filed the motion seeking the DNA samples Monday, and a hearing on the motion has been scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Sept. 10 before County Judge Jerome J. Richards.

Stephen M. Howells II, 39, and Nicole F. Vaisey, 25, both of Hermon, initially were charged with two counts of first-degree kidnapping with the intent to inflict physical injury or sexually violate or sexually abuse their victims. Ms. Rain presented a second-degree kidnapping count during a preliminary hearing for Ms. Vaisey last week in Fowler Town Court. She said she appeared on the reduced count so the alleged victims, ages 12 and 7, would not have to testify at the hearing.

Mr. Howells is still being held on the first-degree kidnapping charges, and Ms. Vaisey is now held on the second-degree kidnapping charge while being held over for grand jury action. Ms. Rain said she would seek the first-degree kidnapping charges for Mr. Howells and Ms. Vaisey from the grand jury.

A motion asking for DNA is “standard” in these types of cases, Ms. Rain said.

The results could be available within two weeks, she said.

Ms. Vaisey’s attorney, Bradford C. Riendeau, said he had not seen the motion yet, but agreed with Ms. Rain that it is standard procedure.

“The presence of DNA is to determine who was there at the location,” Mr. Riendeau said. “They can’t invade somebody’s body without a court order. If they get the court order and you don’t cooperate, they can be held in contempt, and if they had to they could hold you down to get it, though I don’t believe it would go to that extent.”

The Hermon couple is being held without bail in St. Lawrence County jail after allegedly abducting the two Amish girls from their home in Heuvelton on Aug. 13. The alleged kidnappers are accused of luring the girls into their car with a puppy.

The couple then allegedly chained the girls together at the ankles and handcuffed them to a bedpost in their home at 1380 County Route 28. Ms. Rain has said the girls were sexually assaulted before they were released in the hamlet of Bigelow 24 hours later.

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