Updated at 1:00 p.m. ET.
A couple from upstate New York has been charged with two counts of first-degree kidnapping in connection with the abduction of two Amish girls from a roadside farm stand earlier this week.
Stephen Howells II, 39, and Nicole Vaisey, 25, appeared in a court in Albany late Friday with their lawyers, but were not allowed to enter a plea, The Associated Press reports. They were ordered held without bond.
By way of background, the AP writes:
“The 7-year-old and 12-year-old vanished Wednesday evening in Oswegatchie, touching off a massive search in the farming community near the Canadian border.
“They turned up safe about 24 hours later at the door of a house 15 miles from where they were taken. …
“Searchers had scoured the farming community of about 4,000 people, in a hunt hampered by a lack of photos of the girls for authorities to circulate.”
Sheriff Kevin Wells said in a statement that the older of the two Amish girls was able to provide crucial information that led to the arrest of the couple.
Wells later told reporters: “The motive was to victimize children.”
“The girls have been victims of crimes. That’s the only detail we’ll give,” he said.
The St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office issued a statement late Friday saying the arrests of Howells and Vaisey “no doubt saved young children from future abuse.” But District Attorney Mary Rain declined to discuss a possible motive.
Rain said that the suspects had agreed to go to the sheriff’s office to be interviewed earlier on Friday, “and they were arrested after those interviews.”