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Eric Frein Shackled with Slain Trooper's Handcuffs After Capture


Pennsylvania Department of Transportation(TANNERSVILLE, Pa.) — A self-trained survivalist was shackled in the handcuffs used by a Pennsylvania state trooper he allegedly killed in an ambush last month, the state police commissioner said during a news conference.

U.S. Marshals captured Eric Frein outside an abandoned hangar at Birchwood-Pocono Airport near Tannersville, Pennsylvania, about 6 p.m. Thursday, State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan said.

"They ordered him to surrender, to get down and raise his hands," he said.

Frein, 31, was then placed in the handcuffs used by Cpl. Bryon Dickson, who was killed in the Sept. 12 shooting at the barracks in Blooming Grove, said Noonan. He was then driven in Dickson's police vehicle to those same barracks and held there until he was moved to the Pike County Correctional Facility overnight.

"He was definitely taken by surprise," Noonan said, adding that Frein had no weapons on him when he was captured.

Pike County District Attorney Ray Tonkin said he plans to seek the death penalty against Frein, who is charged with first-degree murder, homicide of a law enforcement officer, attempted murder and possession of weapons of mass destruction.

First-degree murder and homicide of a law enforcement officer are both capital offenses. He will be arraigned at 9 a.m. Friday and may face more charges.

"This individual is no longer a threat to this community," said Tonkin.

An unidentified woman told the Scranton Times Tribune that Frein looked exhausted as he was led out of the woods by marshals. Outside of what Noonan called a "scratch" that he suffered before he was taken into custody, Frein appeared to be in good health. "Healthier than I would have expected," Noonan added.

For weeks, several thousand members of various departments in at least five states spent countless hours looking for Frein, who had been on the run since he allegedly killed Dickson, 38, and injured Trooper Alex Douglass during a late-night shift change at the barracks.

Douglass, 31, was discharged to a rehabilitation facility a few weeks ago, state police said.

"Eric Frein was dedicated to killing law enforcement," said Noonan. "I can't think of a more dangerous occupation than going out into those woods and looking for him."

The families of Dickson and Douglass were “relieved and grateful” for Frein's capture, said Noonan.

At times, 1,000 officers searched the rugged mountains for Frein, who police said had planned his attack and hiding for years. The lives of residents in the area were disrupted by the manhunt, including school closings and event cancellations.

Halloween celebrations were canceled because of the manhunt but local officials planned to try and salvage trick-or-treating.

Frein, from nearby Canadensis, was seen several times during the search and later added to the FBI's Most Wanted List.

“The reason this took so long is it’s such a big wooded area that he is thoroughly familiar with," said Noonan.

Police previously found two pipe bombs, an AK-47, ammunition and various food and supplies hidden in the woods while searching for Frein. Police haven't said whether they found the sniper rifle they believe he used in the ambush.

Frein was linked to the shooting after a man discovered his partly submerged SUV in a swamp a few miles from the barracks. Inside, investigators found shell casings matching those found at the barracks as well as his driver's license, camouflage face paint, two empty rifle cases and military gear.

Authorities said they later found notes in the woods, allegedly penned by Frein, which offered a "cold-blooded" and "chilling" account of the ambush and his escape into the woods.

"Got a shot around 11 p.m. and took it. He dropped. I was surprised at how quick," State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens said at a news conference on Oct. 8, reading from the note police believe Frein wrote. "I took a follow-up shot on his head-neck area. He was still and quiet after that."

Frein's criminal record appeared limited to a decade-old misdemeanor case involving items stolen from a World War II re-enactors event in upstate New York, for which he spent 109 days in jail.


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NTSB Waiting to Inspect Plane in Wichita Airport Crash


Jaison Podkanowicz(WICHITA, Kan.) — Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board have been unable to inspect a small plane that crashed into a building at an airport in Wichita, Kansas, killing four people.

Leah Yeager, a senior air safety investigator with the NTSB, said late Thursday investigators will enter the Flight Safety Building at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport after it's deemed structurally sound.

The twin-engine Beechcraft lost power in one of its engines during takeoff Thursday morning before crashing into the building, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Its pilot, Mark Goldstein, a former air traffic controller, died.

"I need to declare an emergency. We just lost the left engine," Goldstein told air traffic controllers before the crash.

The three others killed, who were in the building, haven't been identified. Five people were hospitalized, including one person in serious condition. Goldstein was flying solo.

About 100 people were inside the building, which houses Cessna Citation Jet Simulators, when the plane crashed.

"We were on a conference call and the building just kind of shook and rumbled," said Ryan Peterman, who works inside the building. "We saw the fuselage of the aircraft on top of the building on fire."

Goldstein, who served in the U.S. Navy before joining the FAA in 1987, twice earned the top safety award for his region as an air traffic controller, according to the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. He had recently retired.

"I knew the air traffic control people would know if it was him and sure enough, they knew his voice," said Ron Ryan, a friend of Goldstein.

A 2005 bio provided to ABC News described Goldstein as someone who has “an extensive background in aviation and is considered to be a conscientious controller.” He also volunteered as a youth hockey coach.


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NC Man Pleads Guilty to Attempting to Aid ISIS


AndreyPopov/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A North Carolina man who attempted to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria pleaded guilty to attempting to aid an international terrorist organization.

Donald Ray Morgan, 44, was arrested on Aug. 2 at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on a federal indictment for possession of a firearm by a felon. Court documents showed that Morgan "knowingly attempted to provide support and resources" to ISIS from January 2014 through August 2014.

On at least one occasion, Morgan even tried to travel from Lebanon to Syria to join ISIS.

Assistant Attorney General for the Middle District of North Carolina called the plea a representation of "our continued commitment to confronting those who attempt to travel abroad to support terrorist organizations."

Morgan faces up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

"Donald Ray Morgan proved himself to be a threat to national security," Special Agent in Charge John Strong of the FBI said Thursday. "American citizens who support terrorist organizations must be held accountable for their actions."

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Alleged PA Cop Shooter Eric Frein Captured Alive


Pennsylvania Dept of Transportation(CANADENSIS, Pa.) -- Accused cop killer Eric Frein, one of the FBI's 10 Most Wanted Fugitives, was captured after a 48-day manhunt, police said Thursday night.

"Eric Frein was dedicated to killing law enforcement members," Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan said in a news conference with Gov. Tom Corbett. "I can't think of a more dangerous occupation than going out into those woods and looking for him."

Noonan said several thousand members of various departments in at least five states spent countless hours looking for Frein.

Frein, 31, was captured by U.S. Marshals at an abandoned airplane hanger at Birchwood-Pocono Airport near Tannersville about 6 p.m. Thursday, police said.

Frein had a sniper rifle and knives but no shots were fired during his capture, said Noonan. He was taken to the State Police barracks in Blooming Grove, the same place where he allegedly ambushed two state troopers.

Noonan said Frein was shackled with the handcuffs of Cpl. Bryon Dickson, who was killed in the shooting at the barracks, and driven there in the late officer's police vehicle.

The suspect was captured by a team of marshals who happened to spot him near the hanger. Frein gave up without a struggle and got down on his knees to be handcuffed when approached by the marshals, police said. The suspect was in good condition and required no medical attention.

Frein had eluded authorities since Sept. 12, when he allegedly killed one Pennsylvania state trooper and injured another during his attack on the barracks. At times, 1,000 officers searched the rugged mountains for Frein, who police said had planned his attack and hiding for years. The lives of residents in the area were disrupted by the manhunt, including school closings and event cancellations.

Police believed Frein, a self-trained survivalist from nearby Canadensis, had previously hidden supplies in the woods that he could draw from. They found two pipe bombs, an AK-47, ammunition and various food and supplies they believe belong to the suspect.

On Tuesday, police investigated a possible sighting of Frein made by a resident in Barrett Township, said Trooper Connie Devens, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania State Police. It was one of several such sightings.

A Pennsylvania town had banned trick-or-treating this year while hundreds of cops search nearby woods for Frein. Barrett Township said its annual Halloween parade and 5K Scarecrow Race were canceled indefinitely, and trick-or-treating was banned this year. But township officials told ABC News Thursday night that there will be trick or treating on Friday though the parade won't happen.

Notes found in the woods, allegedly penned by Frein, offered a "cold-blooded" and "chilling" account of how he shot and killed the trooper last month before escaping into the forest, authorities said.

"Got a shot around 11 p.m. and took it. He dropped. I was surprised at how quick," Lt. Col. George Bivens said at a press conference Oct. 8, reading from the note police believe Frein wrote. "I took a follow-up shot on his head-neck area. He was still and quiet after that."

Police said they linked Frein to the ambush after a man walking his dog discovered his partly submerged SUV three days later in a swamp a few miles from the shooting scene. Inside, investigators found shell casings matching those found at the barracks as well as Frein's driver's license, camouflage face paint, two empty rifle cases and military gear.

His criminal record appeared limited to a decade-old misdemeanor case involving items stolen from a World War II re-enactors event in upstate New York, for which he spent 109 days in jail.

Frein is charged with first-degree murder and various other offenses, including two counts of possession of weapons of mass destruction filed after police discovered the pipe bombs. Pike County District Attorney Ray Tonkin said he'd seek the death penalty against Frein.

Trooper Alex Douglass was shot in the pelvis and critically injured in the ambush, which took place during a late-night shift change. Douglass remained hospitalized until Oct. 16, when he was discharged to a rehabilitation facility, state police said.

"If you attack troopers, and a civilized society, the Pennsylvania State Police will bring you to justice. Eric Frein is a coward," the Pennsylvania State Troopers Association said in a statement. "Cpl. Bryon K. Dickson II and Trooper Alex T. Douglass are true heroes."

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Saint Louis County Prosecutor Says Leaks Not Coming from Grand Jury in Michael Brown Case


tomloel/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(FERGUSON, Mo.) -- Saint Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch released a statement on Thursday that leaks involving the case of an officer-involved shooting that left 18-year-old Michael Brown dead in August are not coming from the grand jury in the case.

"No information or evidence has been released by the grand jury," McCulloch's statement said. While he acknowledged a tweet from "several weeks ago" which claimed that a person serving on the grand jury had discussed the case with a friend, McCulloch says bluntly, "That did not happen."

"An investigation revealed that the account had, indeed, been hacked and the origin/author of the tweet is unknown," according to the statement.

McCulloch also denied recent reports that testimony and documents had been leaked "by or from the grand jury." He pointed specifically to reports in The New York Times, which said it received information from a government source briefed on the case, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, which said the documents they obtained did not come from the grand jury.

"Whoever is releasing this information is doing great disservice to the grand jury process," McCulloch concluded. Though he assured the public that "anyone suggesting that the 'integrity of the entire grand jury process has been destroyed' is wrong, irresponsible and does a great disservice to the public."

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At Least Four Dead in Small Plane Crash at Kansas Airport


Jaison Podkanowicz(WICHITA, Kan.) -- Four people are dead after a prop plane crashed into a building Thursday morning at an airport in Wichita, Kansas, officials said.

Five others have been rushed to a local hospital, fire marshal Brad Crisp said more than three hours after the crash.

"We don't know what may have caused the incident," Wichita Fire Department Chief Ron Blackwell said, noting that responders faced a "horrific firefight for several minutes."

The plane struck the top of the Flight Safety Building at Mid-Continent Airport shortly before 10 a.m. and approximately 100 people were inside at the time, according to airport officials.

Federal officials have confirmed that the incident is not related to terrorism.

The plane involved in the crash was a twin-engine Beechcraft that was taking off but lost power in one engine, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Keith Rose, the CEO of Rose Aircraft Services Inc., which owned the plane, confirmed that the pilot was one of the fatalities. He was the only person on board. The three other fatalities were all individuals in the building, which housed Cessna Citation Jet Simulators.

Rose said that the plane was headed to Mena, Arkansas, "for painting and interior refurbishing work," and that the pilot was the only person onboard.

National Air Traffic Controllers Association President Paul Rinaldi said that the pilot was one of those killed in the crash, identifying him as recently retired veteran air traffic controller Mark Goldstein.

Airport officials reported on their Twitter feed that the building sustained serious damage with collapsed walls and ceilings. Smoke could be seen billowing from the building from miles away immediately after the crash.

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Talks with Ebola Nurse Fail, Maine Governor to Use 'Full Authority'


Handout Photo(AUGUSTA, Maine) -- Negotiations with nurse Kaci Hickox, who refuses to be quarantined after treating Ebola patients in West Africa, have "failed" and the governor of Maine will now "exercise the full extent of his authority," according to a statement from the governor's office.

Gov. Paul LePage didn't say whether that meant getting a court order to enforce Hickox's quarantine or forcing her to take an Ebola blood test. Earlier on Thursday, LePage indicated to ABC News that he would abandon his demand that Hickox remain under quarantine if she would agree to take a blood test for the lethal virus.

"I was ready and willing -- and remain ready and willing -- to reasonably address the needs of healthcare workers meeting guidelines to assure the public health is protected," LePage said.

The governor made his comment after Hickox defiantly challenged demands that she remain quarantined by leaving her home in Fort Kent Thursday morning for a bike ride with her boyfriend. She was trailed by a police car as she rode.

While Hickox was pedaling, attorneys for the state of Maine went to Superior Court seeking a judge’s permission to give Hickox a blood test for Ebola, LePage said.

“This could be resolved today,” the governor said. “She has been exposed and she’s not cooperative, so force her to take a test. It’s so simple.”

Medical experts have said that an Ebola test would only be positive if someone were symptomatic, and could register a negative result if the amount of Ebola virus in the blood hadn’t reached a detectable level.

LePage's office later put out a statement saying negotiations with Hickox had failed and the governor will now “exercise the full extent of his authority allowable by law.”

"Maine statutes provide robust authority to the state to use legal measures to address threats to public health," the statement said.

It added, "Specifics of the process or steps being taken by the state at this time may not be discussed publicly due to the confidentially requirements in law."

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More Than Half of US Bans Controversial Guardrail


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- More than half the nation -- 27 states -- have now announced they are suspending further installation of a controversial guardrail system used on roads around the country following what critics said was a cover-up of a dangerous change in the guardrail’s design made nearly a decade ago.

A flood of states have announced suspension of new installation of the ET-Plus guardrail after a Texas jury found earlier this month that the guardrail maker, Trinity Industries, had defrauded the government by making modifications in 2005 and failing to tell federal or state transportation officials at the time. Trinity was ordered to pay some $175 million in damages -- an amount that’s expected to triple by statutory mandate.

Twenty-seven states have said they’ll no longer install the ET-Plus system, some latest states to join being Georgia and Trinity’s home state of Texas. One state, Virginia, said last week it is making plans to remove the guardrails from its highways, but would consider leaving them in place if Trinity can prove the modified version is safe.

The ET-Plus System was the subject of an ABC News 20/20 investigation in September that looked into allegations from crash victims that the modified guardrail can malfunction when struck from the front by their vehicles. Rather than ribboning out and absorbing the impact as designed, the guardrails “locked up” and speared straight through the cars, severing the motorists’ limbs in some cases.

According to an internal email obtained by ABC News, a company official estimated one particular change -- reducing a piece of metal in the guardrail end terminal from five inches to four -- would save the company $2 per guardrail, or $50,000 per year.

The Federal Highway Administration has given Trinity until Oct. 31 to submit plans to crash test the guardrail or face a nationwide suspension of its eligibility for sale. Some of the 28 states have said the ET-Plus ban is in place at least until results of those crash tests are available.

Trinity has maintained the guardrails are safe, noting that the Federal Highway Administration approved the modified guardrail for use after questions about the modifications were raised in 2012. The company plans to appeal the Texas verdict and has previously told ABC News it has a “high degree of confidence in the performance and integrity” of the ET-Plus system.

States that have taken action in regard to the ET-Plus system:

  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Georgia
  • Louisiana
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

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Michigan Woman Goes Missing After Halloween Party


Monroe County Sheriffs Office(MONROE, Mich.) -- A young Michigan woman, who vanished after an early Halloween party last weekend, was last seen in a parking lot with a man who has a thin black moustache and was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, police said.

Chelsea Ellen Bruck was last seen leaving the party between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. Sunday while dressed as the Batman character Poison Ivy.

Police in Monroe County, which is located in southeast Michigan, have issued a missing persons poster showing the normally blonde 22-year-old wearing her costume, which consisted of a top made of ivy leaves and a black wig that appeared red at the ends.

Police have also released a sketch of a man that they say was last seen with Bruck near where cars were parked outside of the party. The man was believed to have dark hair, a thin mustache and wearing a black hooded sweatshirt.

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San Francisco Giants Fans Celebrate World Series Title with Couch Fires


Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) — Big crowds hit the streets of San Francisco late Wednesday to celebrate the Giants' third World Series title in five years.

People burned couches and other debris in the city's Mission District after the Giants defeated the Kansas City Royals 3-2 in the decisive Game 7.

Two people were shot in the Mission, police told ABC News station KGO-TV.

 

SF won the #worldseries. This guy is swinging on live wire on a bus. lol

A video posted by Tony Bell (@tb_tonybell) on Oct 10, 2014 at 10:29pm PDT

 

Police haven't said how many arrests were made.

 

I'm covered in beer #GoGiants #madbum

A video posted by Jeff Dean (@most_jeffinitely_) on Oct 10, 2014 at 8:49pm PDT

A victory parade is scheduled for Friday.

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Man Survives Driving Off Cliff, 17 Hours Trapped Underneath Vehicle


iStock/Thinkstock(BOONE, N.C.) — A man in North Carolina survived 17 hours pinned underneath his vehicle after he fell asleep behind the wheel and drove off a cliff, authorities said.

Joseph Woodring's vehicle fell at least 60 feet when he went off the road in Boone, N.C., on Tuesday night, according to State Highway Patrol.

The crash launched Woodring, 21, from his vehicle, which landed upside down and pinned him underneath it. He was found Wednesday afternoon.

"He was lying on his side. Both legs were pinned under," Dale Watson told ABC News affiliate WSOC-TV. "He wanted some water so I give him some water."

Watson said Woodring told him he fell asleep while driving. It took rescue crews an hour to raise the vehicle off him.

Woodring was taken to the hospital with two broken legs, according to the State Highway Patrol.


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Man Says He Wrongly Confessed to Murder After Undergoing 'Exorcism'


iStock/Thinkstock(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) — A man claims he was under a sort of exorcism when he confessed to killing a fellow member of a religious group in Kansas City, Missouri, whose death was originally ruled a suicide.

The body of Bethany Deaton was found Oct. 30, 2012, in the back seat of her minivan with the doors locked and a note inside.

"My name is Bethany Deaton. I chose this evil thing," the note read, according to court documents. "I did it because I wouldn't be a real person and what is the point of living if it is too late for that? I wish I had chosen differently a long time ago. I knew it all and refused to listen. Maybe Jesus will still save me."

Deaton, 27, was a member of a religious group called the International House of Prayer, which was led by her husband, Tyler Deaton. A few weeks after her death, Micah Moore, another member of the group, confessed to her slaying.

Tyler Deaton had a cult-like following within the group and controlled virtually every aspect of some members' lives, according to court documents.

When Moore confessed, he told police Deaton ordered him to kill his wife to stop her from telling anyone about sexual assaults against her in the house, according to police records. The three lived in a communal house with other male members of the group.

"This is a horrible, horrible crime," Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said. "A young woman lost her life. She lost her life in a very violent way and today, we do know what happened to her."

Now Moore claims he only confessed to killing Deaton because he was under the influence of what some have called an exorcism. Moore, who is scheduled for trial next month, has pleaded not guilty.

"They were the statements of a distraught and confused young man," his attorney, Melanie Morgan, said.

The medical examiner has also changed the manner of Deaton's death to undetermined.

"We are aware of no evidence that a crime has occurred," Morgan said.

The International House of Prayer denied any affiliation with Deaton's group in a statement to ABC News.


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Ebola Nurse Kaci Hickox Can Swap Quarantine for Blood Test, Gov. Tells ABC News


ABC News(FORT KENT, Maine) — Maine's governor indicated Thursday that he would abandon his demand that nurse Kaci Hickox remain under quarantine after treating Ebola patients if she would agree to take a blood test for the lethal virus.

Gov. Paul LePage made his comment to ABC News Thursday as Hickox defiantly challenged demands that she remain quarantined by leaving her home in the morning for a bike ride with her boyfriend.

LePage indicated to ABC News that he was willing to abandon his demands that the nurse remain quarantined if she would take a blood test for Ebola.

While Hickox was pedaling, attorneys for the state of Maine went to Superior Court seeking a judge’s permission to give Hickox a blood test for Ebola, LePage said.

“This could be resolved today,” the governor said. “She has been exposed and she’s not cooperative, so force her to take a test. It’s so simple.”

Medical experts have said that an Ebola test would only be positive if someone were symptomatic, and could register a negative result if the amount of Ebola virus in the blood hadn’t reached a detectable level.

The governor said he has a state police car stationed outside Hickox's home and that she has the town "scared to death."

Hickox, 33, went on the bike ride in Fort Kent, Maine, after vowing last night she wasn't willing to "stand here and have my civil rights violated."

While Hickox was pedaling, attorneys for the state of Maine went to Superior Court seeking a judge’s permission to give Hickox a blood test for Ebola, Maine Gov. Paul LePage told ABC News.

“This could be resolved today,” LePage said. “She has been exposed and she’s not cooperative, so force her to take a test. It’s so simple.”

Medical experts have said that an Ebola test would only be positive if someone were symptomatic.

The governor said he has a state police car stationed outside Hickox's home and that she has the town "scared to death."

The nurse, who had been treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone for Doctors Without Borders, said she was fighting for her rights as well as other health care workers who will be returning from the Ebola hot zone in West Africa. She said that Doctors Without Border told her another 20 health care workers will be coming home in the next month.

"Most aid workers who come home just want to see their family and have a sort of normal life," she told reporters Wednesday night. "I'm fighting for something other than myself. There are aid workers coming back every day."

Hickox said she isn't committed to a quarantine that isn't "scientifically valid," she told reporters standing alongside her boyfriend, Ted Wilbur, outside her home Wednesday night. The quarantine demand goes beyond guidelines put out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which indicate that she can't spread Ebola if she isn't sick, doesn't have symptoms and no one is in close contact with her bodily fluids.

"You could hug me, you could shake my hand [and] I would not give you Ebola," she said.

Hickox returned to the United States on Oct. 24, landing in Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, where she was questioned and quarantined in an outdoor tent through the weekend despite having no symptoms of the lethal virus.

Hickox registered a fever on an infrared thermometer at the airport, but an oral thermometer at University Hospital in Newark showed that she had no fever, she said.

After twice testing negative for the Ebola, Hickox was released and returned home to Maine on Oct. 27. Maine's health commissioner announced that Maine would join the handful of states going beyond federal guidelines and asking that returning Ebola health workers be self-quarantined for 21 days.

But Hickox vowed to break the quarantine because it wasn't based on science.

"I will go to court to attain my freedom," Hickox told Good Morning America Wednesday via Skype from her hometown of Fort Kent. "I have been completely asymptomatic since I've been here. I feel absolutely great."

The CDC doesn't consider health workers who treated Ebola patients in West Africa to be at "high risk" for catching Ebola if they were wearing protective gear, according to new guidelines announced this week. Since they have "some risk," the CDC recommends that they undergo monitoring -- tracking symptoms and body temperature twice a day -- avoid public transportation and take other precautions. But the CDC doesn't require home quarantines for these workers.

Someone isn't contagious until Ebola symptoms appear, according to the CDC. And even then, transmission requires contact with bodily fluids such as blood and vomit.

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NASA Completes Initial Assessment of Virginia Launch Site Following Rocket Explosion


Image Credit: NASA/Terry Zaperach(WALLOPS, Va.) -- NASA said on Wednesday that the Wallops Incident Response Team completed its initial assessment after Orbital Science Corporation's Antares rocket exploded seconds after liftoff on Tuesday.

"I want to praise the launch team, range safety, all of our emergency responders and those who provided mutual aid and support on a highly-professional response that ensured the safety of our most important resource -- our people," Wallops Director Bill Wrobel said. The initial assessment is just a "cursory look," the NASA press release notes, though it found numerous broken windows and imploded doors at buildings in the immediate area.

The most severe damage was found at a sounding rocket launcher adjacent to the launchpad and buildings nearest the pad, and there was damage to the transporter erector launcher and lightning supression rods at Pad 0A.

Soil, air and water samples will be taken from the incident area to ensure that the environment is safe. No hazardous substances were detected in initial sampling.

Also on Wednesday, Orbital said in a statement that the "major elements of the launch complex infrastructure...avoided serious damage."


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Five Cases in Ferguson, Mo., In Which Darren Wilson Was 'Indispensable Witness' Dismissed


AndreyPopov/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(FERGUSON, Mo.) -- Saint Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch announced on Wednesday that five felony cases in Ferguson in which Officer Darren Wilson -- the officer who fatally shot Michael Brown, 18, in August -- was an indispensable witness for the prosecution will be dismissed.

The announcement was made in a press release, which noted Wilson is a witness in "approximately ten of the nearly 4200 pending felony cases in the Circuit Court of St. Louis County." The five cases in which he is an indispensable witness will be dismissed, while the remaining will proceed without Wilson as a witness.

"Neither the cases being dismissed nor the prosecution of those remaining will in any manner effect the investigation or the presentation of the evidence to the Grand Jury in the shooting death of Michael Brown," McCulloch said in the press release.

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