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Polo Mogul Blames Faulty Brakes for Fatal Crash


iStock/Thinkstock(WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.) -- Polo mogul John Goodman took the stand in his own defense Wednesday, blaming faulty brakes -- and not alcohol -- for a fatal 2010 crash.

Goodman, the owner of the International Polo Club Palm Beach, insisted that the brakes on his $200,000 Bentley weren’t working properly, causing the car to slam into a Hyundai driven by Scott Wilson, 23. The crash sent the Hyundai into a canal, where Wilson drowned.

“I went to grab my gear shift, and that’s the last thing I remember,” Goodman said.

Goodman testified that he was on his way to the fast-food restaurant Wendy’s to buy a Frosty frozen dessert when the accident happened.

“The first thing I remember after that was, I was seeing white everywhere,” Goodman said.

“Stars?” his attorney asked.

“Yes, and not really knowing where I was,” Goodman said.

Prosecutors have claimed that Goodman was drunk at the time of the accident after working up a $272 tab partying at The Players Club in Wellington, Florida, later registering a blood-alcohol level of 0.177, more than twice the legal limit to drive.

Goodman admitted ordering 18 drinks at the club -- but he said he only had three of those drinks.

The rest were for others, he said.

He also claimed he didn’t get drunk until after the crash, when he left the scene and stumbled upon a friend’s home, where, he said, he drank heavily.

“I drank it out of the bottle,” he said.

Goodman’s defense also called Dr. David Delonga, a medical specialist, to testify that Goodman was disoriented -- not because of the amount he had to drink, but because the crash likely gave him a concussion.

“That would have been consistent in the range of a mild traumatic brain injury, or concussion, to put it in layman’s terms,” Delonga told the court.

This is the second trial for the multimillionaire, who was convicted in 2012 for Wilson’s death and sentenced to 16 years behind bars. But that verdict was thrown out because of juror misconduct.

Goodman has pleaded not guilty.

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Manhunt for Murder Suspect Mistakenly Released


DPSCS(BALTIMORE) — A manhunt is underway for a murder suspect who was mistakenly released from a Baltimore detention center and even the suspect's mother wants him back in prison.

Rodriquez Purnell, 30, remains on the loose after he was accidentally allowed to walk free from Maryland Reception, Diagnostic and Classification Center on Friday.

Purnell has been in and out of jail for drugs and robbery over the years, but he was recently incarcerated on a first-degree murder charge, accused of fatally shooting T.J. Rheubottom, 27, last year.

Purnell was in custody waiting to be retried for Rheubottom’s murder after his first trial ended in a hung jury, but after corrections officers confused his current case with old charges, they let him go. Authorities didn’t realize the mistake until two days later when the victim’s family said they called the jail after Purnell was spotted hanging out in the neighborhood.

He has not been seen since.

The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Corrections said in a statement Wednesday that it placed an employee on paid administrative leave for mistakenly releasing Purnell.

“Preliminary results indicate a lapse in release procedures that would otherwise have identified the pending charges at the time of release,” the release said.

The situation remains under investigation, with officials trying to find out whether any procedures need to be changed.

Rheubottom’s mother, Jackie Davis, is stunned by Purnell’s accidental release and worries for the safety of her family and witnesses in the murder case.

“I believe that he is very dangerous and he needs to be off the streets today,” Davis told ABC News. “This should have never happened.”

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Former Blackwater Security Guards Guilty in Shooting Deaths of Iraqis


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Four former guards of a U.S. security company hired to protect diplomats were found guilty Wednesday in the September 2007 shooting deaths of 14 Iraqi civilians and the wounding of 17 others.

The men, who were on trial for a second time after their case was dismissed in 2009, claimed their convoy came under attack in Baghdad and were returning fire.

However, federal prosecutors successfully argued that the former Blackwater guards were the aggressors in the incident and showed "grave indifference" to bystanders who were killed or injured by their actions.

A jury convicted Nicholas Slatten of first-degree murder, punishable by a maximum of life in prison. Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard were found guilty of lesser charges, including multiple counts of voluntary manslaughter.

Following the verdicts, all the defendants were ordered jailed while their lawyers said they would appeal.

Meanwhile, even after deliberating for a month, the jury still has to decide on the remaining counts in the case.

Blackwater has since been renamed Academia and bills itself as a private military company.

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Huge Academic Scandal at UNC Involved Athletes


Stockbyte/Thinkstock(CHAPEL HILL, N.C.) -- The University of North Carolina admitted Wednesday that about 3,100 students took so-called "paper classes" with no faculty oversight and no actual class attendance from 1993 through 2011.

The school estimates that half of the students were athletes, mostly from the UNC's basketball and football teams.

Wednesday's report goes much further than when the scandal first came to light in 2011, which initially stated that it was only about academics.

This revelation, however, drags the UNC's vaunted athletic program into the morass.

According to the investigation conducted by the college, two employees in the African and Afro-American Studies department organized fake classes that doled out As and Bs to students who never showed up, presumably to maintain eligibility for sports.

The employees were Julius Nyang’oro, the department's chairman, and Deborah Crowder, the department’s administrator. It was up to Crowder, the report alleged, to give out grades on single papers turned in by students, hence the term "paper classes."

The investigation does not directly implicate any high level administrators at the school. However, it does suggest they missed obvious signs of improprieties and "failed to conduct any meaningful oversight."

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Little League Champ Mo'ne Davis Stars in New Chevrolet Commercial


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  Little League star Mo'ne Davis is back in the spotlight, starring in a new Chevrolet ad that aired during Game 1 of the World Series.

And the pint-sized pitcher is still out to prove that throwing like a girl is a good thing.

Davis said she had "the best summer of my young life" as the star of Philadelphia's Taney Dragons. She led the team to the Little League World Series and made history as one of the few girls to play in the series, and the first Little Leaguer ever to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

"I stand for girls who want to play sports with the boys and to be a role model for people young and old," Davis, 13, says in the commercial, directed by Spike Lee. "I throw 70 miles per hour -- that's throwing like a girl."

Chevrolet posted a longer version of the commercial, which aired Tuesday night, on YouTube that includes interviews with her family, coach and other people who have come in contact with the young star.

"There's this little girl that I'd never seen before and she's throwing these effortless, perfect spirals, once after another," said coach Steve Bandura, who spotted Davis on the field when she was only seven years old. "And she's throwing them like twenty yards and it just looked like it was computer-generated."

The NCAA says Davis' appearance in the Chevy ad won't affect her eligibility to someday play college sports.


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World Series Wish Comes True for 6-Year-Old Cancer Patient


Rob Carr/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A six-year-old Kansas boy who suffers from a painful tumor on his spine was in the stands when the Kansas City Royals threw their first pitch in a World Series game since 1985.

On Tuesday, cancer was the last thing on young Noah Wilson's mind.

"It was amazing," his dad Scott Wilson told ABC News on Wednesday. "We walked away with a loss but the energy in that place was phenomenal." 

Wilson, his wife and their two sons, including Noah, were at the game thanks to a neighbor who launched a campaign last week to send Noah, a lifelong Royals fan who has a rare bone cancer called Ewing sarcoma, to see the team play in the World Series. They have tickets to Wednesday night's game, too.

"Noah had a blast last night and he got home and was still excited," Wilson said. "He fell asleep pretty quick because it was a late night, and he got up this morning already wearing his Royals hat and ready to go." 

Their neighbor Ryan Zimmerman set up a GoFundMe page last week, and supporters raised more than $11,000 to send the cancer patient to Wednesday night's game. MLB and StubHub ended up donating tickets, and Zimmerman said the money raised would be used instead to pay off Noah's hospital bills.

But the Wilsons had a better idea.

"Noah is one of many kids battling cancer. We've always felt kinda weird about this whole thing, so many families are deserving of this," he said. "So we took the money and we bought 16 tickets on StubHub for the game, plus the [extra] tickets donated and gave them to other families going through cancer, that we've met at the hospital or through friends."

"There's no better way to spend it, in our opinion," he said.

On Monday, when Wilson went to pick up the tickets for Wednesday's game, an MLB employee who had heard about the campaign offered up her tickets so the family could also attend Game 1 Tuesday night.

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Wife Discovers Trove of Letters From Husband After His Death


iStock/Thinkstock(LONGVIEW, Texas) -- Even after his death, Mitchell Whisenhunt has found a way to surprise and bring comfort to his wife and young daughter, with a trove of letters he designated to be opened on certain dates.

Whisenhunt, who would have turned 27 next week, lost his battle with Marfan syndrome last Saturday. The rare genetic disorder affects the body's connective tissue, which is used to hold together organs, cells and tissue.

Ashley Whisenhunt, 22, cared for her husband until his death, but said she was astonished when she discovered the 30 letters he left for her and their 18-month-old daughter, Brynleigh.

The little girl will grow up with a letter every year from her second to 18th birthday from a man she didn't get to spend much time with but who left no doubt that he loved her unconditionally.

"Through his testimony, there is so much she is going to learn," Whisenhunt told ABC News.

One letter was also addressed to their Longview, Texas, community, thanking them for their support.

"It just blows my mind," Whisenhunt said of her husband's secret gesture. "He thought about everybody else instead of himself."


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Whisenhunt said she would respect her husband's wishes and open each letter as he planned. However, there was one special surprise left for her that she said hit her the hardest.

In a spiral notebook that Whisenhunt used before she dropped out of college to care for her husband, he wrote a letter to her asking that she publish a book of poetry he had had written.

"He is all I ever had," Whisenhunt said of the man she fell in love with as a teenager. "We have been together since before we knew what love and life was about."

Mitchell Whisenhunt planned his own funeral, and as his wife raises money to pay for it, she said she can't help but wonder what other surprises her husband has in store.

"There are ones we still don't know about," she said. "The funeral director said he couldn't tell me. It was Mitchell's plan and secret."

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Indiana Serial Killer Suspect Refuses to Speak in Court


iStock/Thinkstock(CROWN POINT, Ind.) -- The accused serial killer who police say confessed to murdering at least seven women in Indiana refused to speak to a judge in court Wednesday, forcing her to cancel the arraignment.

Suspect Darren Vann was silent as Judge Kathleen Sullivan asked him to swear to tell the truth at the Lake County Jail in Crown Point. Instead of speaking, Vann stared straight ahead.

Sullivan postponed the hearing until next week.

Vann's silence comes after he cooperated with police, confessing to seven murders and showing police where to find the bodies.

Vann, 43, was arrested in the Friday murder of a 19-year-old woman at a motel in Hammond, Indiana. She was later identified as Afrikka Hardy, who had recently moved to Indiana from Aurora, Colorado. Police say she was involved in a prostitution ring and Vann met her, along with other alleged victims, through listings on Backpage.com.

Vann helped authorities locate the bodies of six other victims, all stashed in abandoned homes in Gary, Indiana, because "he was looking for a type of deal with prosecution," Hammond Police Chief John D. Doughty said at a press conference this week.

Vann indicated to police that his murders date back two decades, and police suggested there could be additional victims.

The Lake County coroner said Wednesday that they have identified four of the women and are seeking the public's help in identifying the remaining three. Seventeen families have called the coroner's office to make missing persons reports to see if the victims were their family members.

The coroner said at least one other woman was strangled, and the cause of death of the remaining five was not yet determined.

At least three of the victims were skeletonized by the time they were found, a process that could take between two weeks and months depending on the environment, a spokeswoman for the coroner's office said. Two of the skeletonized bodies were found together.

The office asked that anyone with information about the victims to call 219-755-3267.

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Texas Woman Gives Birth 20 Hours After Home Burns Down


iStock/Thinkstock(HITCHCOCK, Texas) -- Newlyweds in Texas are rebuilding their lives after a fire burned down their home -- just 20 hours before they welcomed their son into the world.

Chad and Leslie Hunt, of Hitchcock, Texas, were out to dinner Saturday night, celebrating their two-year dating anniversary and one-month wedding anniversary, when they got a phone call from a friend that their apartment was on fire.

“I thought it was a joke but realized it was real,” Chad Hunt, 24, told ABC News. “We were focused on getting home and getting our dog, but by the time we got there it was too late.”

The couple’s dog died and they lost all of their belongings in the electrical fire that started in the ceiling of the apartment below theirs and shot straight up into the nursery they had spent months creating for their then-unborn son.

“We just had what we were wearing and had go-bags packed for the hospital and that’s it,” said Hunt.


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As the couple stood outside their home speaking with firefighters and Red Cross officials, Leslie’s water broke.

The couple raced to the hospital and, after 20 hours of labor, Leslie, 21, gave birth to a son they named Casey.

“I think that if she would have gone into labor earlier and she had been at home with the baby, all three of us would have died,” Chad said. “It really is a blessing that it happened while we were out.”

The family of three is now staying in a room in Leslie’s mother’s house while they try to find a new place to live.

With no homeowners’ insurance, the couple is starting completely over, according to Chad, who works for a local air conditioning company. Despite the circumstances, he says they have been touched by the generosity of others.

“Randomly people stopped by the hospital with clothes for us and clothes for the baby so we have stuff to make do for right now,” he said. “I’d like to say thank you to everyone and their generosity.”

Friends have also started a GoFundMe page for the family. Donations have soared to above $6,000 in just the two days since it was created.

“It’s such a blessing to have all this help,” Chad said. “It could have been a lot worse."

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Eric Frein Lookalike Stopped by Cops 20 Times in Manhunt


iStock/Thinkstock(CANADENSIS, Pa.) -- A Pennsylvania man says he's been stopped by police more than 20 times as authorities continue to search the area where he lives for accused cop killer Eric Frein.

James Tully's walk to work crosses right through the manhunt area near Canadensis, where police have been searching the woods for Frein for more than five weeks.

Once, he said he was even ambushed at gunpoint by authorities who thought he was the suspect, Tully recalled.

"Because I'm walking and I'm carrying a book bag, and for some reason people seem to think I'm the one they're looking for," Tully told ABC News affiliate WNEP, adding that he's been stopped by police too many times to remember.

"I've lost count after 20 in total," he said. "The most on one round trip stretch was about seven times."

Tully, who works for a metal manufacturing factory, has started wearing his employer ID card around his neck and a reflective vest on his walks.

"The one they're hunting for, he's not going to stand out," Tully said. "He's going to try and blend in. I want to stand out so I can let them know; look, I'm not the one they're looking for. Just let me go on my way."

Pennsylvania State Police did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

Increased police presence has hurt businesses in the Pocono Mountains and put locals on edge, residents have said. In press conferences about the manhunt, Lt. Col George Bivens has repeatedly thanked people who live in the area for their support.

Pocono Mountain Schools were closed on Tuesday after a reported sighting of Frein near the school campus, but reopened on Wednesday.

Frein, a self-trained survivalist, is accused of shooting two troopers, killing one and injuring another, at the Blooming Grove police barracks on Sept. 12, and then fleeing into the woods.

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What Supreme Court Did (and Did Not) Reveal About Three Hot Button Issues


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Without uttering a word from the bench, the Supreme Court acted on major hot button issues in the last month concerning voting rights, abortion and gay marriage.

The cases weren’t on the Court’s argument calendar. Parties were either asking the Court to act on an emergency basis to freeze a lower court decision, or requesting that the Court step in and take a case for later in the term.

The Court responded by issuing orders that were usually only a few sentences long. We never got the majority’s reasoning, but in some cases a few of the Justices released a public dissent.

Here’s some of what we know, and what we don’t, about the hot button issues:

Voting Rights:

The court sent a strong signal that it didn’t like voting changes made too close to an election. It allowed voting restrictions to remain in effect in North Carolina, Texas and Ohio. It stopped Wisconsin’s Voter ID law from going into effect.

But Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the most senior member of the liberal wing of the Court, had a couple of things she wanted to make clear: the country, she believes, is now feeling the impact of the Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County that invalidated a key provision of the Voting Rights Act.

In two separate dissents, she pointed out that voting restrictions in Texas and North Carolina would most likely not have been able to stand in pre-Shelby days.

She said the Texas Voter ID law “may prevent more than 600,000 registered Texas voters (about 4.5% of all registered voters) from voting in person for lack of compliant identification.”

Abortion:

The Court blocked part of Texas’ abortion law from going into effect pending appeal. Pro choice groups praised the court’s order saying that several abortion clinics -- forced to close because of a lower court ruling -- would be able to reopen while the merits of the case were argued.

What’s interesting in this case is that while Justices Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas publicly dissented, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy were publicly silent.

The court’s action was not a ruling on the merits; it simply granted an emergency application from pro-choice groups fearful that the state would be left with just seven clinics. But the silence on the part of Roberts and Kennedy gave the groups some hope that they might be able to get five votes down the road to permanently strike down provisions of the law.

Gay Marriage:

The justices cleared the way for gay marriage in several states when the Court declined to step in and review seven cases from three appeals courts. President Obama went as far as telling the New Yorker that the Court’s action was as “consequential” as anything the Court has done.

We may never know what went on behind closed doors when the justices made their decision. It would have taken four votes to grant any one of the cases. Every justice knew that if the Court chose not to take up the cases, in short order 35 states would allow gay marriage.

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Passenger Arriving at Newark Evaluated for Possible Ebola


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UPDATE: Officials say the United flight 998 passenger evaluated for Ebola symptoms does not have the virus.

"There have been no positive indications of Ebola, including the passenger taken to the hospital in Newark last night," Pat Foye, head of teh Port Authority said Wednesday morning.

(NEWARK, N.J.) — A passenger who arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport from Brussels on United flight 998 Tuesday was being evaluated for possible symptoms of Ebola, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The passenger was taken by ambulance to University Hospital in Newark, N.J., which was designated as the facility for any passengers flagged by health screeners at the airport, the CDC said.

"During the enhanced screening process for individuals arriving to the United States from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, an individual was identified as reporting symptoms or having a potential exposure to Ebola," the CDC said in a statement Tuesday night. "The passenger is being transported to a local hospital for further evaluation."

The CDC said that if it is determined that the other passengers were in any risk of exposure they will be contacted by CDC or state or local health officials.

United said in a statement: "Health officials examined a passenger. The other customers were cleared and deplaned normally."

Additionally Tuesday, an adult and a child, both of whom began their trips in Liberia, were taken from O'Hare International Airport in Chicago to hospitals to be evaluated for Ebola, although in both cases the CDC decided not to test for Ebola.

Enhanced screening measures for passengers arriving from the three West African countries went into effect just this week. According to those measures, passengers arriving in the U.S. from Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia can only disembark at five airports, including Newark and O'Hare.


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Samantha Greenlee, Pregnant 22-Year-Old, Found Dead in Ohio


Columbus Division of Police(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- The body of a missing pregnant 22-year-old Ohio woman was found and her boyfriend is under arrest, charged with her murder, authorities told ABC News.

Samantha Greenlee had been missing since Oct. 8.

Her boyfriend, Jacob Ferrero, 22, who’s also the father of her unborn child, was arrested by the Columbus Police Department Wednesday morning. He’s charged with murder and aggravated arson, and he is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday, according to the arrest report.

Ferrero gave a full confession to a fire investigator before leading police to the location of Greenlee’s body, authorities told ABC News.

Greenlee was last seen working her waitressing shift at a local restaurant before heading home, police said. Two days later, she missed a doctor’s appointment –- and a fire broke out in the apartment, with Ferrero telling police that their dog kicked over a candle, igniting the fire.

He later confessed to starting the fire as a way to cover up Greenlee's death, authorities said.

The developments in the case come hours after family and friends held a vigil, hoping for Greenlee’s safe return.

“She was a caring person. She always thought about other people,” her father Douglas Greenlee told ABC News on Tuesday. “She would do stuff for others before she would think about herself.”

Greenlee’s mother Winnie Chutes said it was uncommon for her daughter to go so long without contact.

“Samantha would have contacted us by now. There’s a reason why she’s not contacting us,” Chutes said.

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Ben Bradlee, Top "Washington Post" Editor During Watergate, Dies At 93


Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) --  Ben Bradlee, the legendary executive editor of the Washington Post during the Watergate era, has died, the newspaper reported on its website Tuesday night. He was 93.

A native of Boston, Bradlee began his career at the age of 20 in a grand fashion. He graduated from Harvard, got married to his first wife, Jean Saltonstall, and joined the U.S. Navy, serving in the South Pacific.

He went on to work for Newsweek, first in postwar Paris and then in Washington D.C., where he counted then-Senator John F. Kennedy as a friend. Bradlee was promoted to managing editor of the Washington Post in 1965 and rose through the ranks to become executive editor in 1968. It was a post Bradlee held until his retirement in 1991.

During his tenure, Bradlee steered the newspaper to national prominence, in part by reporting on the Watergate scandal that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

While Bradlee was known as a top editor in Washington, he became a household name when the movie All the President's Men, detailing the Watergate scandal, hit the big screen in 1976.

Bradlee was portrayed by actor Jason Robards, who starred alongside Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford, who played reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward.

The Washington Post credits Bradlee with helping to expand its coverage by opening bureaus around the world, leading to it becoming one of the most preeminent newspapers in the United States.

Bradlee's wife, Sally Quinn, said in a recent television interview with C-SPAN that her husband of 36 years had dementia and suffered a decline in health in recent months.

Seeing her husband's decline was "the most horrible experience I have ever had," Quinn said.

However, she said her ability to care for him was something she held "sacred."

Bradlee was awarded the Medal of Freedom from President Obama in 2013 for his reporting and leadership during the Vietnam War and Watergate. He also still loved catching up with old colleagues -- something Quinn said her husband did until recently.

"He was going to the office once a week to have lunch with the guys," Quinn said. "They would talk about the good old days and journalism."

President Obama released a statement on Tuesday night calling Bradlee a "true newspaperman."

"The standard he set – a standard for honest, objective, meticulous reporting – encouraged so many others to enter the profession," the statement continued, offering thoughts and prayers to Bradlee's family.


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Three American Girls En Route to Syria Tracked Down by FBI


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The FBI has tracked down three American teenage girls in Germany as they were en route to Syria to join militant groups, a law enforcement official told ABC News Tuesday.

The girls, who are from the Denver area, were trying "to fulfill what they believe is some vision that has been put out on a slick media campaign" by radical groups in Syria, including ISIS, the official said.

This is part of a worrisome trend of "disaffected youth" who are being radicalized, the official said, pointing to the wider phenomenon of foreign fighters converging on the conflict in the region. While these girls were 15 or 16 years old, there are other cases of high-school-age kids trying to get to Syria that haven’t been made public, the official said.

The girls were persuaded to travel overseas and were in contact with someone in Germany, the official said, noting that someone close to them notified authorities.

They were turned around and sent back to the United States, the official said, noting that because they are minors, it's not clear whether they will be charged with anything or be "arrested."

According to a federal law enforcement source briefed on the case, two of the girls are sisters, ages 15 and 17, and the third girl is 16 years old.

The sisters are believed to be of Somali nationality, and the third girl is believed to be Sudanese, though the citizenship and immigration status of all three girls is unclear.


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