National News

Idaho murders: What we know and what's still a mystery

Heather Roberts/ABC News

(MOSCOW, Idaho) -- From motive, to how two roommates survived, many questions remain unanswered in the mysterious murders of four University of Idaho students.

"Everyone wants answers... we want to give those answers as soon as we can," Moscow Police Chief James Fry told ABC News on Wednesday, adding that some details must be withheld to protect the investigation.

Here's what we know and what's still unclear:

The crime

Kaylee Goncalves, 21, her roommate and lifelong best friend, Madison Mogen, 21, another roommate Xana Kernodle, 20, and Kernodle's boyfriend Ethan Chapin, 20, were stabbed to death in the girls' off-campus house in the early hours of Nov. 13.

No suspects have been identified.

The murder weapon -- which police believe was a fixed-blade knife -- is still missing.

Were killings targeted?

Chief Fry told ABC News on Wednesday that police "believe this is a targeted attack," but he wouldn't reveal why police think that. Fry would not say if a person or the house was a target.

But the Moscow Police Department contradicted that in a statement released just hours later.

The statement said: "The Latah County Prosecutor’s Office stated the suspect(s) specifically looked at this residence, and that one or more of the occupants were undoubtedly targeted. We have spoken with the Latah County Prosecutor’s Office and identified this was a miscommunication. Detectives do not currently know if the residence or any occupants were specifically targeted but continue to investigate."

As to whether the killings were targeted, former FBI agent and ABC News contributor Brad Garrett said Thursday, "I don't think they [law enforcement] really know. I think they have theories, and maybe they're good theories about what happened. ... It certainly feels like, without knowing of course, that they don't know what they have."

Garrett isn’t involved in the investigation.

This wasn't the first miscommunication by local leaders.

Initially after the shocking murders, Moscow police said they believed there was "no imminent threat to the community," but later walked that back. Fry told ABC News Wednesday, "I own the messaging problem at the very beginning. We should've done a little better than that. ... we needed to correct that."

Garrett said high-profile cases put a lot of pressure on officials and it's "not uncommon" to see uncoordinated responses among the different agencies.

Profile of the killer

Police have not released a motive or potential profile of the killer.

Garrett said his guess is the attacker "really wanted to kill all four of them -- motive unknown and relationship to the victims unknown."

"Why would you go to the trouble to kill four people if in fact you're upset, angry or have revenge against one of them?" he said.

While Garrett doesn't know the motive, he said he believes the killer "likes to do these type of things and maybe has done it before."

He thinks the suspect is probably not in their late teens or early 20s because it's unlikely they could "methodically think through" four murders.

"Because of the time it would take, the energy it would take, and the focus that would take, it's a lot to ask of an 18-year-old," he said.

The surviving roommates

Two other roommates were in the house at the time and survived, likely sleeping through the attacks, according to police. The roommates are not considered suspects, police said.

The murders likely took place around 3 a.m. or 4 a.m., according to officials. In the morning, the two roommates called friends over because they thought one of the victims on the second floor had passed out and wasn't waking up, police said.

At 11:58 a.m., a 911 call from one of the roommate's phones requested help for an unconscious person, police said. The 911 caller's identity has not been released but police said "multiple people talked with the 911 dispatcher."

Responding officers found the four victims on the second and third floors, police said.

Police said they do not believe anyone at the house at the time of the 911 call was involved.

As to how the surviving roommates could have slept through the murders, Garrett said the killer had the advantage of surprise, since the victims were likely asleep when he approached them. And the four victims "may have been killed in such a way it was difficult for them to scream," he said.

Police said all four victims were stabbed multiple times and were probably asleep when attacked.

Community must help 'get this person off the street'

As local, state and federal agencies continue to investigate, Garrett recommends they examine the "existing leads and go back over them regularly to see what you have missed."

"You then also have to expand this case -- and it sounds like they've done some of this -- because if you're dealing with a person who is a serial offender, then he has committed some version of this before," Garrett said. "Are there other stabbings of a similar nature? Maybe in a house at night?"

Garrett added, "You also have to keep the case in the public's eye, because you're always looking for new leads" and want to encourage people to submit tips.

Sometimes community members are reluctant to come forward with information "because they've had bad experiences with police or they're not sure what they know is really relevant," Garrett said.

"I would push the heinous nature of this crime," Garrett said, and stress that police need the community's help to "get this person off the street."

Students on edge

The University of Idaho community is on edge in the wake of the slayings, and the police department said it's received an influx of 911 calls.

Garrett said he would tell concerned students: "What happened on your campus is extremely rare. The odds of you being in harm's way is, relatively speaking, low."

But he urges them to stay aware of their surroundings.

"Don't walk alone," he said. "Super-secure everything: the windows, the doors."

The police chief promised to ABC News on Wednesday that the department won't allow the case to go cold.

"We're going to work continuously. And we're going to provide as many answers as we can, and we're going to do the best job we can," he said.

Police urge anyone with information to upload digital media to fbi.gov/moscowidaho or contact the tip line at tipline@ci.moscow.id.us or 208-883-7180.

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Avalanche warnings issued in 4 states as snow wallops western US

ilbusca/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- Severe winter weather out West prompted avalanche warnings in four states on Thursday.

The National Weather Service and the U.S. Forest Service issued an avalanche warning for Colorado, California, Idaho and Montana following heavy snowfall in parts of each state.

In Colorado, extremely dangerous avalanche conditions are expected to form early on Friday and throughout Saturday, the NWS said.

According to the NWS, both natural and human-trigger avalanches are likely to happen.

Many people are expected to go skiing this weekend, as several ski resorts in the Rocky Mountains have just opened, officials said.

The U.S. Forest Service Sierra Avalanche Center issued an avalanche warning from Thursday morning to Friday morning in the Central Sierra Nevada Mountains, which is in California.

According to the Avalanche Center, additional snow and strong winds will place an extra burden on an already weak snowpack.

"Avalanche activity could be widespread and some avalanches could be large and destructive," the Avalanche Center said.

According to the UC Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab, a research field station focusing on snow, the area received 5.7 inches of snow overnight and is expecting another 20 to 30 inches of snow on Thursday.

A major storm, bringing heavy snow, coastal rain and high winds, is impacting 16 states as it moves across the West.

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Families of victims dead from carbon monoxide poisoning in Mexico Airbnb warn against short-term rentals

Courtesy Family of Jordan Marshall | Courtesy Family of Kandace Florence

(NEW YORK) -- The families of American tourists who died of carbon monoxide poisoning while staying in an Airbnb in Mexico are warning those who plan to travel during the busy holiday season of the potential dangers that could arise while vacationing abroad.

The victims -- Jordan Marshall and Courtez Hall, both schoolteachers from New Orleans, and Kandace Florence, a business owner in Virginia Beach, Virginia -- were found dead in a Mexico City apartment they booked on Airbnb in October, according to the Attorney General's Office of Mexico City.

The three friends had traveled to Mexico to partake in the Day of the Dead festivities when Florence called her boyfriend and said she wasn't feeling well, her family told said during a news conference on Thursday. She described being dizzy and her legs feeling wobbly, her mother said.

The victims were found after security guards at the apartment complex detected an intense gas smell, authorities said. Blood tests later determined that they died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Now, the mothers of the victims are speaking out about losing their children in what their lawyers described as a preventable tragedy.

Jennifer Marshall, the mother of Jordan Marshall, said the families are infuriated that their children "could have been saved by a $30 carbon monoxide detector."

"It is unfortunate and it also infuriates us that we will never have the opportunity to talk to, laugh with or comfort our children," she said.

Ceola Hall, Courtez Hall's mother, said she does not want any parent to go through what she went through.

"You want to get as much detail from your children as you can when they are leaving, because you don't never know that might be your last time seeing them," Ceola Hall said.

Freida Florence, Kandace Florence's mother, cried as she addressed reporters, saying that the holiday season was her daughter's favorite time of year. She wants her daughter's untimely death to have meaning, she said.

"She had a prophecy: 'I'm going to change the world. I'm going to show people how to keep going in spite of controversy,'" Freida Florence said.

The attorneys for the families are now demanding that Airbnb mandates carbon monoxide detectors in every listing it has, describing the victims' deaths as "inexcusable."

Family attorney L. Chris Stewart said what happened to Jordan Marshall, Courtez Hall and Kandace Florence could happen to anyone, adding that "more people are going to die if this is not fixed."

"Nobody travels around with a smoke detector in one hand, a carbon monoxide detector in the other," he said. "We just trust companies to do the right thing, and it didn't happen."

Attorney Michael Haggard said those considering booking a short-term rental should book a reputable hotel or resort for their next vacation instead.

"We know that if you check, you stay in a Marriott, Hilton, wherever it is, they're gonna have carbon monoxide detectors," he said.

"This is a terrible tragedy, and our thoughts are with the families and loved ones as they grieve such an unimaginable loss," Airbnb said in a statement to ABC News. "Our priority right now is supporting those impacted as the authorities investigate what happened, and we stand ready to assist with their inquiries however we can,"

A failure in the apartment's gas boiler released a gas smell, as well as carbon monoxide, a colorless and odorless gas, a spokesperson for the Mexico attorney general's office told ABC News.

Investigators believe one of the victims attempting to take a shower could have activated the boiler.

In a statement to ABC News in October, Airbnb described the deaths as "a terrible tragedy."

"Our priority now is to provide support to those affected while the authorities investigate what happened and we are available to cooperate with the investigation in any way we can," a spokesperson for the short-term rental website said.

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Lion cubs abandoned in Ukraine find new home in Minnesota

Holly-marie Cato/IFAW

(SANDSTONE, Minn.) -- Four furry refugees have added pride to a Minnesota animal sanctuary after being abandoned in Ukraine.

The Wildcat Sanctuary in Sandstone, Minnesota, welcomed four lion cubs, Taras, Stefania, Lesya and Prada, on Wednesday just months after they were found in a Kyiv breeding center in the war-torn country, the International Fund for Animal Welfare said.

The cubs, roughly five months old, survived drone attacks and bombings and were transported to Poland in October to escape the dangers, according to the IFAW.

They were flown to the U.S. in wooden crates explicitly designed for them, driven eight hours to the sanctuary and immediately unloaded into a warm indoor enclosure with plenty of food, water and toys, according to the non-profit.

"These cubs have endured more in their short lives than any animal should," Meredith Whitney, the wildlife rescue program manager at the IFAW, said in a statement.

At the time of their rescue, zoos and sanctuaries in Europe didn't have the capacity to take the cubs in, the IFAW said.

Dr. Andrew Kushnir, a veterinarian working with IFAW, has been taking care of the cubs since they arrived in Poland and accompanied them on their flight to the United States.

"During several drone attacks and airstrikes, he prepared their specialized milk formula every three hours, cleaned up their enclosure and made sure they had a warm place to sleep. On nights when the power went out, he even used his arms and legs to warm their milk bottles," the IFAW said in a statement.

Administrators at the Wildcat Sanctuary said their habitat is specially designed for the cubs and other big cats to live and thrive.

"They have a custom, open space to explore and soft grass or hay to rest their tired bodies on," Tammy Thies, the founder and executive director of the Wildcat Sanctuary, said in a statement.

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Prosecutors in Trump Organization tax fraud trial claim Trump knew 'exactly what was going on'

Marilyn Nieves/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- Former President Donald Trump "knew exactly what was going on with his top executives," a prosecutor claimed Thursday during closing statements in the criminal tax fraud trial of Trump's namesake real estate company.

Two entities of the Trump Organization -- the Trump Corporation and the Trump Payroll Corporation -- are on trial for paying the personal expenses of some executives without reporting them as income and for compensating them as independent contractors instead of full-time employees.

Prosecutor Josh Steinglass' assertion about the former president prompted defense attorney Alan Futerfas to raise a concern outside the jury's presence, saying jurors had been told from the outset that the criminal trial did not involve Trump personally.

But Steinglass said defense attorneys Susan Necheles and Michael van der Veen had "opened the door" by saying during their closing statements that Trump did not know about the tax fraud his company allegedly committed.

"You have heard no evidence in this case that Mr. Trump or any of his children were aware of anything improper," van der Veen said during his closing argument.

Judge Juan Merchan sided with Steinglass, saying, "I took note of the efforts both Ms. Necheles and Mr. van der Veen went to distance Mr. Trump from the case" -- and that it was only fair to allow prosecutors to argue otherwise.

Steinglass, meanwhile, pushed back on the defense narrative that former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg had only his own self-interests in mind when he hatched a scheme to evade taxes by having the company pay millions in personal expenses that he failed to declare on his income taxes. Steinglass conceded Weisselberg was "primarily motivated by his own greed" -- but he insisted "there is a tremendous amount of evidence here, completely ignored by the defense in their summations, that he intended to benefit the defendants."

Prosecutors believe the Trump Organization is culpable because Weisselberg's conduct benefitted the company and because his position as CFO means he was entrusted to act on the company's behalf.

The prosecutor urged the jury to focus on a single question: "Are the corporations liable for the conduct of its employees?"

Both the off-the-books perks and the independent contractor payments ended once Trump became president, said Steinglass.

They cleaned it up because "they were worried about getting caught," Steinglass said.

Earlier Thursday, Necheles' closing statement pinned the scheme solely on Weisselberg, who pleaded guilty in August to a 15-count indictment, and said the company is not liable for his criminal conduct.

"The prosecution's case rests on one thing: trying to convince you, the jurors, that Mr. Weisselberg's actions were done in behalf of the company," Necheles said. "They were not. They were done solely to benefit himself. And that is the critical issue in this case."

Weisselberg testified at trial that he reduced his reported salary by the total amount of the personal expenses that the company covered, and that the company benefitted by paying less in payroll taxes. He also testified that his primary motive was greed.

The longtime CFO, who agreed to testify as part of a plea deal with prosecutors, said his primary goal in arranging the perks was to "save pretax dollars."

Weisselberg "testified that Allen Weisselberg committed these crimes solely to benefit himself -- solely to benefit himself," Necheles said. "In other words, no intent to benefit the corporation."

"This case is about greed. But only the greed of Allen Weisselberg," said van der Veen, who represents the Trump Payroll Corporation. "There's not any dispute about what Allen Weisselberg did. The real question is, 'Who did he do it in behalf of?'"

Van der Veen suggested that the real crime was not the company's decision to pay Weisselberg's rent, the lease on his Mercedes Benz, or his grandchildren's school tuition -- but Weisselberg's failure to report those perks on his income taxes. The attorney questioned why the Manhattan district attorney's office charged the company.

"They wanted something with the Trumps attached to it," van der Veen said, drawing an objection from prosecutor Josh Steinglass that the judge overruled.

The defense also tried to convince the jury the Trump Organization's outside accountant, Donald Bender of Mazars USA, should be blamed for failing to flag the company to fraud or other criminal conduct.

"Bender never told the owner of the Trump Corporation, President Trump, that there was anything wrong," defense attorney Susan Necheles said. "There can be no claim that President Trump had any knowledge or belief that the fringe benefits were illegal."

But Steinglass pushed back on the idea that Mazars was to blame for failing to flag criminal conduct, accusing the company of "deliberately concealing their wrongdoing from the accountants and then scapegoating the accountants for not sniffing out their malfeasance."

"If you want to keep committing tax fraud you don't ask your accountant for his blessing," Steinglass said.

As part of its closing statement, the defense prepared a scorecard for the jury that listed elements of the scheme and boxes to check "yes" or "no" regarding whether there was an intent to benefit the Trump Organization. Necheles paired it with transcripts of select testimony in which witnesses said the sole beneficiary was Weisselberg.

But some of the transcript pages displayed for the jury included answers to questions that had been successfully objected to, which caused a delay while the pages were reviewed and prosecutors sought corrections.

"It's your responsibility to make sure this doesn't happen again," Judge Juan Merchan told the defense. "I don't fault the People for being upset."

The outcome of the case could turn on the vagaries and nuances of a part of New York criminal law that even the judge has called "confusing." Judge Merchan said Wednesday he would allow defense attorneys to argue in their closing statements that prosecutors failed to show Weisselberg acted "in behalf of" the company.

The confusing part, the judge said, is that the New York state legislators who drafted the relevant statute did not define exactly what "in behalf of" means in that context.

The judge said he would not allow the defense to "overstate what that intent was."

If convicted, the company faces fines of up to $1.7 million. Potentially more significant could be collateral consequences if banks call in loans or partners cancel contracts.

The trial also revealed that Trump reported nearly $1 billion in operating losses over a two-year period about a decade ago, spilling into public view tax information that the former president had tried repeatedly to keep private.

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City of Uvalde files lawsuit in attempt to force DA to turn over investigative materials from shooting

Jason Marz/Getty Images

(UVALDE, Texas) -- The City of Uvalde added to a flurry of lawsuits filed this week surrounding the Robb Elementary School shooting. The city submitted a petition Thursday against Uvalde County District Attorney Christina Mitchell, attempting to force her to turn over her investigative materials related to the Robb Elementary School shooting.

This is the third suit filed in relation to the massacre this week alone, and the city is a defendant in the other two.

The petition, submitted in Uvalde district court, argues that the city needs access to Mitchell's investigative materials, such as body camera footage and incident reports from the day of the shooting. The city has contracted its own investigator, Jesse Prado, to complete an internal affairs review of the Uvalde police department. His ability to do so has been hindered by a lack of evidence, according to the petition.

"We hope this lawsuit will allow the City's investigation into the conduct of its officers to be completed so as to give the community and families the answers they deserve," said a city spokesperson in a news release.

The city announced its own investigation into its police department's conduct this past summer amidst outcry for police accountability following a delayed 77-minute police response that has been widely criticized.

The petition by the city says that Mitchell has not shared vital evidence from that day, while providing it to other agencies. The suit asks the court to immediately force her to turn those materials over for Prado's eyes only instead of withholding them until after she completes her investigation.

According to the Uvalde Leader News, Mitchell's investigation will last into Spring 2023. Mitchell did not respond to an email asking about the city's complaint.

"The Uvalde community has waited entirely too long for answers and transparency with regard to the Robb Elementary shooting incident," read the city's statement.

Earlier this week, the city was named as a defendant in two other lawsuits. A class action filed this week is seeking $27 billion dollars for more than 25 shooting survivors.

The survivors are suing Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw, along with the city, for psychological damages incurred during the massacre.

The other defendants in the $27 billion lawsuit include local lawmakers and top law enforcement officers, many of whom are already facing federal suits from other survivors of the shooting and one victim's mother. This is the first suit to name McCraw and Texas DPS Regional Director Victor Escalon for their role in the police response during the massacre that took 21 lives.

"People are hurting, their children are hurting," said Charles Bonner, the lead attorney on the case in a news conference Wednesday. "They don't know what to do and there's no one helping them."

The federal lawsuit, which was filed in Del Rio, Texas, is the first class action to arise in the aftermath of the massacre and the first to ask for a specific amount in damages. It is the third federal lawsuit that has spawned from the tragedy and the second filed by a group of survivors. The plaintiffs were students, teachers, and school bus drivers at Robb Elementary on the day of the shooting. Lawyers say they are looking to add more plaintiffs to the complaint as well.

"This $27 Billion lawsuit is to let them know that we value our children's lives," said Bonner. "We have to have enough money to get their attention."

Families of the victims confronted McCraw at an October public safety hearing in Austin, calling on him to resign.

"If you're a man of your word, you'll resign," said Brett Cross, father of 10-year-old Robb Elementary School victim Uziyah Garcia.

McCraw said that DPS as an institution had not failed during the shooting. DPS did not respond to requests for comment on this lawsuit.

Bonner said that he met with many of the surviving families earlier this week at a church in Uvalde and heard their stories.

Many kids who witnessed the shooting unfold are still dealing with the psychological consequences, he said. Some have had trouble sleeping, others started wetting their pants and many can't be alone anymore.

Teachers who sheltered students in classrooms and closets have been traumatized too, he added.

"Their brains are now permanently injured," said Bonner. "The brain is a physical organ just like the leg or the knee and it's now permanently injured."

The mother of a girl killed during the massacre also filed a lawsuit Monday against gun distributors, local governments and 16 law enforcement officers on the scene during the shooting -- claiming their negligence led to her daughter's death.

"Eliahna loved her family, and she knew how much we loved her," Sandra Torres, the mother of 10-year-old Eliahna Torres, said in a news release.

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Family members, including a 4-year-old, found dead in Illinois home

ABC News

(BUFFALO GROVE, Ill.) -- Five people, including two children, were found dead in an Illinois home in what police say was a domestic-related incident.

Lake County Coroner Jennifer Banek identified the victims as 4-year-old Ameila Kislak; 6-year-old Vivian Kisliak; 36-year-old Vera Kisliak; 39-year-old Andre Kisliak; and 67-year-old Lilia Kisliak.

Police also found one animal dead, according to Brian Budds, Buffalo Grove's police chief.

Banek said her office completed autopsies on four of the victims. All appeared to have died of sharp force injuries, she said.

Police said they were dispatched to a single-family residence in Buffalo Grove on Wednesday to conduct a well-being check on an adult female. They were unable to make contact with anyone in the home and entered the home by force, officials said. Upon entry, officers conducted a sweep inside the home and found five people dead.

The well-being check was called in by a coworker of a female resident, according to Budds.

Budds said there is no threat to the public.

The Lake County Major Crime Task Force is also assisting with the ongoing investigation.

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Yale University sued for alleged discrimination against students with mental health disabilities

Erica Denhoff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) -- Two Yale University students and Elis for Rachel, an advocacy and support group at the university, filed a lawsuit against the school Wednesday, alleging the school discriminates against students with mental health disabilities by failing to provide necessary accommodations and pressuring them to withdraw.

The lawsuit, seeking class-action status from the U.S. District Court of Connecticut, features accounts by two current students, three former students and a nonprofit group, Elis for Rachael, representing several dozen others.

The nonprofit was founded last year after the suicide of freshman Rachael Shaw-Rosenbaum, who had contemplated the consequences of withdrawing from Yale in multiple online posts prior to her death.

The plaintiffs argue the university's withdrawal policies foster a punitive rather than supportive environment for students with mental health disabilities, deterring many from seeking help. Their accounts detail the "traumatic" experiences of being forced to leave school, then the hurdles they had to clear just to return.

If students disclose their mental health disability while seeking support and demonstrate severe symptoms, the university has often pressured them to voluntarily withdraw until they can apply for reinstatement at least a semester later. If the students refused, the university's policies allow for "involuntary withdrawals," forcing students to take leave without "deference to treating professionals or consideration of whether withdrawal will cause harm," the lawsuit says.

After they were hospitalized for self-harm, multiple students, including Hannah Neves and Nicolette Mantica, alleged that Yale officials visited them in the hospital and notified them they would likely be withdrawn from the university.

In some students' cases, the lawsuit says Yale officials suggested the students would be perceived as a liability to the university if they did not withdraw.

The plaintiffs further allege the policy imposes "unreasonable burdens" on students who withdraw for disability-related reasons, including requiring they vacate their dorms within 48 hours.

In the U.S. on a student visa, Neves says she was forced to return to her home country of Brazil on short notice after being withdrawn. She was eventually permitted to return to the university for the spring 2021 semester.

The university also bars students on leave from visiting campus and participating in school activities, even those open to non-students, without prior permission, effectively isolating them from their social circles and support systems, the lawsuit argues.

Students may also have to discontinue their university health insurance, forfeiting all completed health insurance payments, in addition to a portion -- or sometimes all -- of their already paid tuition, room and board fees, the lawsuit alleges.

After the completion of their leave, the plaintiffs say students must endure a "daunting" reinstatement process to return, which requires submitting an application form, a personal statement and letters of support where students must convincingly argue they were "constructively occupied" during their withdrawal, including completing coursework.

Students who are reinstated after a withdrawal must also meet higher academic standards than their peers, the lawsuit alleges. If reinstated students fail a course within the two terms since their return, they are ordinarily required to withdraw again.

Before being withdrawn, during the school year, the plaintiffs described having to jump through multiple hoops and navigate an opaque process to petition for specific accommodations, which were often denied, including options to take courses remotely or enroll in a part-time course load.

The lawsuit also claims that some students may never seek needed aid, fearing they'll be subject to the university's withdrawal policies if their mental health disability is known.

Yale spokesperson Karen Peart said in a statement to ABC News that the university has taken steps to ease the return to school for students on medical leave and increase resources to provide them additional support.

"The university is confident that our policies comply with all applicable laws and regulations," she wrote. "Nonetheless, we have been working on policy changes that are responsive to students' emotional and financial wellbeing."

Yale has been reviewing its withdrawal polices since September, Yale's president said in a November statement.

"A committee of Yale College student affairs professionals and mental health experts at Yale has been meeting since September 2022 to continue the review of our withdrawal and reinstatement policies," the statement said. "This group is poised to roll out policy changes in stages that will continue to support students."

The lawsuit comes just a few weeks after a Washington Post articledetailing similar allegations from students and alumni.

If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide or worried about a friend or loved one, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 [TALK] for free, confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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Navy warships narrowly avoid colliding in San Diego Bay

US Navy

(WASHINGTON) -- The Navy is investigating how two of its warships on Tuesday ended up on a collision course in a narrow channel of California's San Diego Bay.

The vessels came within 35 yards of each other on Tuesday morning, according to a Navy official, but were able to avert disaster through some last-minute maneuvering.

"USS Momsen and USS Harpers Ferry were transiting opposite directions in the San Diego Bay in close vicinity, Nov. 29. Both ships maneuvered to safety," U.S. 3rd Fleet spokesman Lt. Samuel Boyle told ABC News in a statement.

Neither was damaged and no sailors were hurt as a result of the evasive actions.

The incident occurred in a somewhat narrow part of the channel that requires constant turns, according to the Navy official. The commanders of both ships agreed in advance to traverse the channel simultaneously and pass by in opposite directions. But although the ships were in communication from the beginning, they ended up sailing head-on at each other.

A second Navy official confirmed the authenticity of a video posted on Twitter that shows the near miss, and includes audio of the two ships communicating to avoid collision.

In the video, transmission from the Momsen's bridge to Harpers Ferry can be heard: "We are coming to port to avoid you."

The word "port" is used here in the nautical sense, meaning the Momsen intended to veer left, as it can be seen doing in the video.

The Harpers Ferry responded in kind: "We are coming to port to avoid you as well."

The Harpers Ferry is a 610-foot-long amphibious ship that weights more than twice as much as the Momsen destroyer vessel, which is why it appears slower to turn in the video.

It was not a viable option for either ship to simply stop and let the other pass, because without propulsion they would be left at the mercy of the currents and wind, and would not be able to keep stable and on course, according to the first official. But while it is not uncommon for ships to pass by in opposite directions in the channel, they came closer than they should have in this case, the official added.

"We were watching it and ... the [surface warfare officers] around here were like, 'Phew, that was close!'" the second Navy official said. "But the consensus here is like, wow, they did a really good job of talking to one another and getting out of a tough situation."

The Navy is now working to find out how the two ships got into that tough situation in the first place, and who might have been responsible.

San Diego Bay is home to one of the largest Navy bases in the U.S., which serves as the main port for more than 50 ships and tens of thousands of personnel.

ABC News' Luis Martinez contributed to this report.

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Matt Gaetz associate Joel Greenberg gets 11 years as probe into congressman stalls, sources say

Aitor Diago/Getty Images

(ORLANDO, Fla.) -- Joel Greenberg, the former Florida tax collector who sources say agreed to cooperate in the federal probe into his one-time close associate, Rep. Matt Gaetz, was sentenced Thursday to 11 years in prison after pleading guilty to crimes ranging from wire fraud to sex trafficking a minor.

Greenberg pleaded guilty last May to six of the 33 federal charges he was facing, including charges of stalking, identity theft, wire fraud, and conspiracy to bribe a public official, as well as one charge of sex trafficking.

The case grabbed national attention in the spring of 2021 after news broke that the investigation into Greenberg, a Seminole County tax collector, had, according to multiple sources, erupted into a sprawling federal probe that included whether Gaetz, his close friend, had had sex with a minor who he met through Greenberg.

Gaetz has long maintained his innocence and has vehemently denied any wrongdoing.

In September of this year, The Washington Post reported that career prosecutors had recommended against charging the Florida congressman with sex trafficking. During a subsequent interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity, Gaetz said he didn't know any more about the case than what's been in the media, adding that "I continue to proclaim my innocence."

Multiple sources familiar with the probe told ABC News that the investigation into Gaetz has stalled, with federal investigators having concerns regarding multiple key witnesses in the case, including Greenberg -- as well as specifics in the case that could make a conviction difficult for prosecutors.

Greenberg, who served as Seminole County tax collector for just over three years, was initially charged in 2020 with over 30 counts that included defrauding the Seminole County Tax Office out of hundreds of thousands of dollars through schemes ranging from buying sports memorabilia and cryptocurrency to paying women he met on a self-described "sugar daddy" website using the office credit card.

Greenberg reached a plea deal with investigators in May 2021 in which he agreed to provide "substantial assistance" to prosecutors as part of their ongoing investigation into Gaetz and others, according to sources familiar with the arrangement. The former tax collector provided investigators with years of Venmo and Cash App transactions and thousands of photos and videos, as well as access to personal social media accounts.

He was facing decades in prison before reaching the deal, which led to probes of two dozen individuals, including eight people being investigated for sex crimes, seven for public cooperation, and 10 for election fraud, according to Greenberg's attorney, Fritz Scheller. Four individuals have been indicted in part due to Greenberg's cooperation, and Scheller said two additional new indictments related to crimes stemming from fraudulent COVID-19 relief loans were expected in the coming months.

Judge Persnell, during sentencing Thursday, called Greenberg's degree of cooperation "more than I've seen in 22 years." But the court also came down hard on Greenberg by handing down a sentence on the highest end of the sentencing guidelines.

"In 22 years I've never experienced a case like this," the judge said regarding the breadth of Greenberg's crimes. "I have never seen a defendant who has committed so many different types of crimes in such a short period."

Greenberg, in a brief address to the court, apologized to the former minor at the center of the sex trafficking charge, and to school teacher Brian Beute, whom Greenberg had stalked after Beute announced he'd run against him for tax collector. Greenberg also apologized to his family and to the taxpayers of Seminole County.

"Nothing I say today will justify my actions," Greenberg said. "I know I deserve punishment."

Ahead of Thursday's sentencing, Greenberg's attorney issued a veiled criticism of the Justice Department's inaction against other individuals whom his client has implicated as part of his cooperation.

"If the Government is so concerned with general deterrence, then why hasn't it prosecuted the other individuals, including public figures, who were also involved in Greenberg's offenses?" Schiller wrote in a memo filed ahead of his client's sentencing. "Perhaps the DOJ are master strategists far beyond the capabilities of the undersigned. Or perhaps the DOJ is like Nero fiddling away as Rome burns."

At a pre-sentencing hearing on Wednesday, both the prosecution and Greenberg's defense attorneys recommended to U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell that Greenberg be sentenced to between 9.25 and 11 years in prison, per federal sentencing guidelines. But Presnell signaled Wednesday that he was considering a harsher sentence for Greenberg, citing concerns about stacking the multiple, wide-ranging charges together.

"We don't have related crimes," Presnell said, noting that "there is no precedent" for the range of crimes Greenberg pled guilty to committing.

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Battles over politics, race, LGBTQ issues have made teaching harder, according to new survey

Will & Deni McIntyre/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- The so-called culture wars are deeply affecting schools across the country, according to a new UCLA report that surveyed principals from across the country.

The report, released Wednesday, showed a vast majority of principles reporting "substantial and growing political conflict" that's making it harder to combat misinformation and interfering with productive discussions in classrooms.

Over the last year, a conservative-led effort to target topics on race, oppression and the LGBTQ community have prompted state legislators and some school boards across the country to adopt policies that limit or restrict dialogue or curriculum on certain identities.

Principals in "Purple" districts, or politically divided communities, often faced more challenges than others, according to the survey.

The report found that these communities have been targeted by "small groups of vocal parents and community members" who are connected to conservative national organizations to "aggressively" challenge or threaten educators on such topics.

According to one principal in Minnesota who was quoted in the report: "My superintendent told me in no uncertain terms that I could not address issues of race and bias etc. with students or staff this year. He told me, 'This is not the time or the place to do this here. You have to remember you are in the heart of Trump country and you’re just going to start a big mess if you start talking about that stuff.'"

Almost two-thirds or 64% of principals said parents and community members have challenged the information or media sources used by teachers in their school.

Nearly half of all principals – and 63% of principals in Purple communities – said parents or community members "sought to limit or challenge …teaching and learning about issues of race and racism."

Between 2018 and 2022, heightened community-based contention over teachers’ use of media sources and information grew almost three-fold in Purple districts from 12% to 35%, the survey found.

In Purple communities, almost a quarter (23%) of principals reported their school board or district leaders took action on limiting teaching and learning about race and racism.

Nearly half of all principals reported efforts to challenge LGBTQ+ rights in the 2021–2022 school year. In Purple communities, principals were nearly twice as likely to say such attacks occurred multiple times than in Red or Blue communities.

According to the report, the communities in which principals reported high rates of hostility and disrespect towards LGBTQ+ youth were also the communities in which principals reported fewer efforts to address these concerns.

Principals say these new policies have not only deeply affected the actual content being delivered in the classroom but also the way students responded to one another.

Roughly 69% of principals said students made derogatory remarks to liberal or conservative classmates, a problem that was much more likely to occur repeatedly in Purple communities.

Principals at schools in Purple communities were also more likely than Red and Blue districts to report high levels of political conflict.

One Iowa principal said: "I had to come down and help the teacher, like a veteran teacher, who’s never had problems having discussions. And the kids were just so stuck in their trenches, they weren’t willing to be open to even listen to the other side."

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French bulldog owner works with police to get stolen pup back as dog thefts are up 40%

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(NEW YORK) -- After Patti Rhine’s French bulldog, Sailor, vanished near her home in Marathon, Florida, earlier this year, she worked with local authorities to find the suspects accused of stealing the pup and allegedly demanding $1,000 for its safe return.

“This was a very special case to us. You know, people say it was only a dog. No, this was a family member. This was their beloved family member,” Capt. Don Hiller of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office told "Nightline."

Dog thefts are up 40% from last year, and French bulldogs, nicknamed “Frenchies,” are the No. 1 target for thieves, ahead of both Labrador retrievers and Yorkshire terriers, according to the American Kennel Club.

The breed has exploded in popularity in recent years, with celebrities like Reese Witherspoon and Dwayne Johnson posing with their pets on social media. Some dogs, like Manny the Frenchie and Gus Gus and Marty, a pair of French bulldog brothers, have huge followings of their own.

But that cuteness doesn’t come cheap. French bulldogs can fetch up to $5,000. One rare pup once sold for $100,000. That price tag makes them highly valuable for resale — and also attractive to thieves.

Surveillance video shows the moment masked intruders stole a French bulldog named Milani from a California home in the middle of the day. A litter of French bulldog puppies were stolen from a home in Long Island in August. Another Frenchie was nearly snatched right out of a lobby in New York City.

The issue made national headlines last year, when two of Lady Gaga's frenchies were stolen from their dog walker at gunpoint.

“We believe most pets are stolen either for the thief's own family or to be resold,” AKC Reunite CEO Tom Sharp told "Nightline."

AKC Reunite is a non-profit that tracks lost and stolen pets using microchips. The organization has received more than 3,800 reports of missing pets from all 50 states in the past month alone.

Sharp recommends microchipping your pet and enrolling it in a 24/7 nationwide service. Experts also encourage owners to use GPS trackers on their pets. However, their weakness is that they can run out of batteries, Sharp said.

Pet detective Karin Tarqwyn says the No. 1 thing she tells people is “to know where your pet is at any one given moment, and to not have your pet out in public and you’re not there.”

In Patti Rhine’s case, soon after posting a photo of Sailor on Facebook offering a $500 reward, she got a phone call from an unknown person claiming to have her dog. When his story didn’t add up, she called the police.

Rhine also received what she describes as menacing text messages from the number, including a photo with Sailor looking “distraught," she said.

Eventually, Rhine said the people who had Sailor agreed to meet Rhine in Miami. Waiting for undercover officers to arrive, Rhine says one of the suspects gave her an ultimatum, so she took matters into her own hands to get Sailor back.

“As soon as he handed me my dog, there was at least eight or 10 police cars rushing in from all areas. They were arrested. It was like a television show,” Rhine said.

Police arrested two suspects, who were each charged with grand theft, dealing in stolen property and using a cell phone to facilitate the felonious use of a communication device, Hiller said. They have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial.

The owner and pup are now settling back into their old routines.

“I'm not in fear. I'm not going to let the rest of the world put me in fear. But you need to be aware of your surroundings and lock your doors and take care of your animals,” Rhine said.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Delphi murders: What the unsealed documents reveal and the questions that remain

Alex Perez/ABC News

(DELPHI, Ind.) -- Evidence in the Delphi, Indiana, double murder case was unsealed by a county court on Tuesday, revealing key new details, including that suspect Richard Allen's gun was linked to the crime scene.

But many questions still remain around the murders of Abby Williams, 13, and Libby German, 14.

Here's what we've learned and what remains unclear:

Allen places himself at the scene

Abby and Libby, best friends in the eighth grade, were on a hiking trail in rural Delphi when they were killed in February 2017.

Allen, a 50-year-old Delphi man, was arrested last month. He's charged with two counts of murder and has entered a not guilty plea.

When interviewed by police in 2017, Allen said he was on the trail on the afternoon of the murders, according to the probable cause affidavit.

In an Oct. 13, 2022, interview, Allen told police he saw juvenile girls on the trails east of Freedom Bridge and said he went onto the Monon High Bridge, near where the girls were killed.

This year, Allen "again admitted" to police "that he was on the trail but denied knowing Victim 1 or Victim 2 and denied any involvement in their murders," according to the probable cause affidavit.

Allen "has been consistent" in police interviews over the years, former FBI agent and ABC News contributor Brad Garrett said. "He put himself at the scene, on the bridge."

But Garrett said he doesn't understand how it took so long for an arrest.

"In a small town, in a place where there's a small amount of traffic on this abandoned railroad bridge ... your suspect pool is fairly small," Garrett said, so police likely concentrated their investigation on Delphi and the surrounding communities.

Allen's gun linked to crime scene

According to video recovered from one of the victim's phones, Abby or Libby mentioned "gun" as a man approached them, the probable cause affidavit said.

A .40-caliber unspent round was found less than 2 feet away from one of the girls' bodies, and that unspent round went through a gun that Allen owns, according to the probable cause affidavit.

Garrett explained that an "unspent bullet is one that has the casing and the projectile still together." To get that, he said one of two things happens: 1.) Someone tries to fire the gun but it's a faulty bullet and it doesn't fire, or 2.) The gun jammed, which Garrett said is common.

During a search of Allen's home on Oct. 13, 2022, officers found knives and guns, including a "Sig Sauer, Model P226, .40-caliber pistol," the probable cause affidavit said.

Indiana State Police's analysis of Allen's gun "determined the unspent round located within two feet" of one of the victims "had been cycled through Richard M. Allen's Sig Sauer Model P226," the probable cause affidavit said.

"When asked about the unspent bullet, [Allen] did not have an explanation of why the bullet was found between" the girls' bodies, the probable cause affidavit said.

When Allen voluntarily spoke to police on Oct. 26, 2022, he said he never allowed anyone to borrow that gun, which he said he owned since 2001, the document added.

Garrett said he doesn't understand why it took police so many years to match an unspent round from the crime scene to a gun owned by a man who lives in Delphi.

Garrett said he hopes investigators went to all of the local gun stores to see their records of sales of .40-caliber-type weapons. Garrett said he's solved homicide cases that way, because typically a perpetrator buys a gun legally near his or her home, he said.

While it's unclear if police did go to gun stores, Garrett think it's unlikely because there was no mention of a gun in the case until the probable cause document was released Tuesday.

How did the girls die?

Despite mention of a gun, it's not clear if Abby or Libby died from gunshot wounds. Police still have not released their causes of death.

The probable cause affidavit did reveal that clothes belonging to the girls were found in a creek south of where their bodies were discovered.

"I've always been concerned about how these two youngsters died. The police have put a .40-caliber weapon into the case," Garrett said. "You have this unspent shell casing near the victims' bodies, but you also have things that are really troubling to me: [The girls] are in one place and their clothes are in another. ... Unless he made them undress -- which I guess is possible -- was there some other weapon used?"

Investigators also cite a witness who saw Allen walking with "clothes that were muddy and bloody," according to the probable cause affidavit.

According to Garrett, it's unlikely Allen would be bloody if a gun was the only murder weapon, unless Allen handled the bodies in some manner.

Garrett said it's possible that the gun jammed and the killer turned to another weapon.

Knives were also found at Allen's home, according to the affidavit.

"Why would the police withhold [the cause of death]? The only thing I can think of is it was too gruesome, in their mind, to release," Garrett said. "It seems like there is something more to it than just a gun."

Police believe Allen is the man in suspect photo

Video from one of the victim's phones shows a man on the trail wearing a dark jacket and jeans. An image taken from the video was released years ago as police asked for information to help them find the unknown suspect.

Investigators said in the probable cause affidavit that they believe Allen is the man seen on the video.

Allen told investigators on Oct. 13, 2022, that he wore jeans and a blue or black Carhartt jacket that day, according to the probable cause affidavit. Allen's wife confirmed to police that he owns a blue Carhartt jacket, the document said.

Investigators also claim Allen forced Abby and Libby down the hill to the spot where they were killed, according to the document.

Allen's lead defense attorney Brad Rozzi did not respond to a request for comment and fellow attorney Andrew Baldwin declined to comment.

Indiana State Police told ABC News on Tuesday: "Out of respect for the prosecutorial process, which is being led by the Carroll County prosecutor, we are refraining from making any public statements and are going to allow the probable cause affidavit to stand on its own. As this continues to be an active and ongoing investigation, the Indiana State Police will continue to provide any and all resources available to assist in the prosecution of this case."

Carroll County Sheriff Tobe Leazenby said the information in the probable cause affidavit is "self-explanatory" and declined to comment further.

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Indiana's attorney general files complaint against doctor who gave child an abortion

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(NEW YORK)-- Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita asked the state's medical licensing board to subject abortion provider Dr. Caitlin Bernard to disciplinary sanctions as the two battle over abortion in the state.

Rokita submitted an administrative complaint Wednesday to the state's medical licensing board claiming Bernard violated federal and state law relating to patent privacy and reporting child abuse, according to a copy of the complaint published online by Rokita.

In June, Bernard publicly disclosed that she had provided abortion care for a 10-year-old rape victim who traveled from Ohio to Indiana for care. At the time, there was a six-week abortion ban in place in Ohio.

The move by the attorney general comes after Bernard and her colleague, Dr. Amy Caldwell, filed a lawsuit earlier this month against Rokita and Scott Barnhart, the director of the consumer protection division of the attorney general's office, asking the court to prevent the office from accessing patients' medical records and investigating abortion providers.

But, Rokita claimed he is not reporting Bernard to the medical board for performing an abortion, saying his office is not trying to expose anyone's medical file.

In a statement released Wednesday, Rokita alleges that Bernard "failed to uphold legal and Hippocratic responsibilities by exploiting a 10-year-old little girl's traumatic medical story to the press for her own interests." Rokita also accused Bernard of failing to properly report her patient's abuse per Indiana law.

Rokita claimed that Bernard's testimony before a judge as part of the ongoing lawsuit last week, provided sufficient evidence that she violated her professional obligations as a licensed physician and that she "failed to obtain written authorization to release the minor's medical information."

"Dr. Bernard violated the law, her patient’s trust, and the standards for the medical profession when she disclosed her patient’s abuse, medical issues, and medical treatment to a reporter at an abortion rights rally to further her political agenda. Simply concealing the patient’s name falls far short of her legal and ethical duties here," Rokita said in the statement.

Rokita claimed "only Indiana authorities could have possibly stopped this little girl from being sent home to endure possible future harm by her alleged rapist," according to a statement.

Testifying under oath, Bernard said she complied with legal requirements, and her lawyer, Kathleen DeLaney told ABC News in a statement that the doctor reported possible child abuse to social workers and state authorities.

DeLaney also said there is documented communication between hospital social workers and law enforcement.

An Ohio man was charged with raping and impregnating a 10-year-old girl who police say then traveled out of state to receive abortion care.

However, Rokita's complaint also accuses Bernard of not reporting the child's alleged abuse to law enforcement. Bernard's lawyer pushed back against that accusation, claiming that Katharine Melnick, a Marion County deputy prosecutor, testified under oath last week that "in the hospital setting it is social workers, not doctors, who make child abuse reports to law enforcement."

DeLaney claimed Rokita is attempting to intimidate abortion providers, despite abortion remaining legal in the state.

"The Administrative Action filed today by Mr. Rokita is clearly a last-ditch effort to intimidate Dr. Bernard and other providers of abortion care. The evidence and testimony from last week’s hearing confirmed that Dr. Bernard complied with all reporting requirements, cooperated with law enforcement officials, and discussed a case example only in a de-identified way, within the bounds of applicable privacy laws," DeLaney said.

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Mom and four kids run over at school bus stop by driver trying to escape police

ABC News / WABC-TV

(NEW YORK) -- A mother and her four children have been run over as her kids were getting off of a school bus by a driver trying to escape the police.

The incident occurred just before 5 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon in the Midwood neighborhood of Brooklyn in New York City when police say they tried to stop a white Mercedes-Benz traveling along Flatbush Avenue. Instead of stopping, the female driver took off on Avenue J and went straight through several bus stops before hitting the family with her car, according to ABC News’ New York City station WABC-TV.

The mother had been waiting -- along with two of her children -- for the school bus to arrive carrying her other two kids when the accident transpired, according to WABC.

"When the Mercedes hit the woman, the woman flies and hit the ground and the kid was shivering," one unnamed male witness told WABC.

“[The mother] was under the bus, actually,” another female witness who witnessed the collision told WABC. “I was praying for her. It is just so terrible. It is definitely terrible.”

The 41-year-old mother along with her four children -- three daughters aged 8, 5 and 1 and one son aged 3 -- were immediately taken to a nearby hospital where they were all listed in stable condition. The family is expected to survive, according to WABC.

Police investigating the accident found the car involved in the crash a short distance away at E 24th St and Glenwood Road but police sources told WABC that the female driver abandoned the car there and walked away.

The suspect involved in the incident is still at large and police have yet to make any arrests.

Anyone with information regarding the crash should contact the New York Police Department.

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