Two upstate New York sisters who disappeared last April were found alive this week, and a 29-year-old woman has been charged with abducting them.
Kylea Fortner, 16, and Shaeleen Fortner, 14, both of Binghamton, were found Wednesday at a home in nearby Vestal. 29-year-old Amanda Hellman pleaded not guilty Thursday to a felony count of second-degree kidnapping. She was being held without bail.
Authorities say the Fortner sisters were reported missing on April 27, 2015. They were last seen waiting to get on a school bus at the end of the day's classes.
Authorities allege that Hellman brought the girls to her home and "conducted numerous acts to prevent law enforcement from returning the two children to their foster parents."
Authorities describe Hellman as a "family acquaintance" of the sisters, but did not elaborate on how she knew them.
Broome County District Attorney Steve Cornwell that the sisters were "healthy" and had been handed over to Child Protective Services.
"Eleven months goes by ... and you think the worst," Cornwell told the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin. "State police have honestly been working this case every single day. They didn't give up."
Cornwell did not elaborate on a possible motive for the alleged kidnapping, not did he elaborate on details of the phone call that he said led authorities to Hellman and the girls.