Accused Amish Kidnapper May Have Local Ties

- A startling local connection to the case of two Amish girls abducted and abused in upstate New York. The girls were held captive and abused for 24 hours. Now, we’re learning that one of their captors may have attended Mercyhurst University.

Stephen M. Howells II and Nicole F. Vaisey were arrested on Friday, accused of kidnapping two young Amish girls from a roadside stand in rural New York.

According to New York officials, the couple victimized the sisters during their captivity.

According to Fox 28 News in Watertown, New York, the woman arrested, Vaisey, graduated from Mercyhurst University in Erie. They confirmed that information with her attorney.

A 2011 article from Mercyhurst University’s newspaper, The Merciad, reports a woman named Nicole Vaisey received a $1,500 Psi Chi Undergraduate Research Grant to alleviate costs for a research project.

That same article reports that Vaisey was a psychology major and the president of Psi Chi, an international honors society for psychology.

The research project, according to an abstract from the Council on Undergraduate Research, was completed by Nicole F. Vaisey and was titled, “The Effects of Viewing Sexually Suggestive Images on Rape Myth Acceptance and the Role of Physiological Arousal.”

According to The Merciad, Vaisey was reportedly a member of the psychology club, Mercyhurst Active Minds, the math lab and the Mercyhurst Center for Applied Politics.

Vaisey told The Merciad in 2011 that she hoped to eventually attend graduate school and work as a university psychology professor.

The couple is currently being charged with two counts of first degree kidnapping.

Mercyhurst officials cannot confirm if Vaisey was a student at the school because their registrar’s office is not open on Sunday but will be able to provide more information on Monday.

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