Two sisters who went missing after leaving their upstate New York school almost a year ago were found after a tip led police to their abductor’s home, authorities said.
Ky-lea Fortner, 16, and Shaeleen Fitch-Fortner, 14, didn’t return to their foster family’s home after school on April 27. Witnesses had last seen the girls waiting for a school bus outside Susquehanna Valley school, New York State Police said.
Cops tracked down the pair 11 months after their disappearance, finding them being held against their will in the Vestal home of Amanda Hellman, a 29-year-old family acquaintance of the sisters, cops said.
“During the course of the next 11 months, Hellman, who is not related to either child, conducted numerous acts to prevent law enforcement from returning the two children to their foster parents,” according to a copy of a complaint obtained by the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin.
The motive for the kidnappings was not immediately clear.
Police did not say what led them to Hellman’s home or discuss the conditions in which the girls were kept.
The department said it “received and investigated numerous investigative leads relative to the girl’s location.”
The girls, who were found in good health, were placed in the custody of Child Protective Services, officials said.
Hellman pleaded not guilty to felony kidnapping charges at her Thursday night arraignment.
"Eleven months goes by ... and you think the worst," Broome County District Attorney Steve Cornwell told reporters after Hellman’s court appearance. "State police have honestly been working this case every single day. They didn't give up."