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Kidnapping Suspects' Alleged Plot Revealed in Court

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Rochester: Kidnapping Suspects' Alleged Plot Revealed in Court
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FOWLER, N.Y. -- New details are emerging in the abduction of two Amish girls last week in St. Lawrence County.

During a preliminary hearing in court, prosecutors said the couple charged in the case referred to the incident as a "shopping trip," with the intention of making children their "slaves."

Nicole Vaisey appeared Thursday evening in St. Lawrence County Court.

Prosecutors are using a second degree kidnapping charge to send the case to a grand jury so that the victims don't have to testify.

Other details were discussed in court, including that the couple allegedly lured the children to the car with a dog.

Prosecutors said Stephen Howells pushed them in while Vaisey drove away. Investigators said the children were confined by handcuffs, while they were in the suspects' custody.

When the couple allegedly dropped the children off, Vaisey drove ahead of Howells to make sure there was no police presence in the location.

Defense attorneys are arguing that Vaisey was also being controlled by Howells. They said she drove herself to the sheriff's department the next day.

"This is a very unusual circumstance where somebody potentially charged with a very serious crime, about as serious as they get, drives themselves to an investigatory agency and then talks to the investigators," Vaisey's attorney Bradford Riendeau said. "That's bizarre in this business."

"Mr. Riendeau is indicating that his client was a slave, her statement belies that statement," District Attorney Mary Rain said. "He totally took it out of context. She put herself in that situation. She wanted to be in that situation and she participated fully."

Both Howells and Vaisey are currently charged with first degree kidnapping. Howells waived his preliminary hearing.

The children are back at home with their family.

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