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Two Teenage Girls Found Safe After Missing 11 Months, Suspect in Custody

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By Emily Girsch.
The suspect accused of kidnapping two teenage girls who disappeared form Conklin last April was identified at the Vestal Town Court on Thursday night.

29-year-old Amanda Hellman was charged with felony kidnapping in the second degree.

"Last April, two teenage girls left for school and did not return home. Tonight everyone should know that the two girls are safe," said Steve Cornwell, District Attorney for Broome County.

16-year-old Kylea Fortner and her sister, 14-year-old Shaeleen Fortner disappeared 11 months ago from Conklin.

A felony complaint filed in Vestal Town Court said Hellman abducted the girls from the area of the Susquehanna Valley High and Middle Schools on Conklin road in Conklin.

For the next 11 months, authorities say that Hellman kept the sisters in her house and prevented them from returning to the foster home where they had been living.

"While people went on with their lives last April, the state police continued to search every single day for 11 months," said Cornwell.

"The investigation was expansive and they never stopped looking for these two teenage girls."

A tip from a caller who is not being identified at this time led police to Hellman's home on Wednesday.

After pleading not guilty to the felony of second degree kidnapping, Hellman was taken to the Broome County Jail.

According to Cornwell, Hellman is the only suspect and additional charges are not expected at this time.

The girls are now in the custody of child protective services.