Teens fly from Vietnam, have 'no place to go'
By Lenora Chu
Rochester police reported that two girls, ages 16 and 14, flew from Vietnam to the Rochester International Airport on Wednesday and found they had "no place to go."
Chief of Police Roger Peterson said law enforcement became aware of the situation after an airline agent, purportedly from American Airlines, called them.
The police are working with Olmsted County social services to determine whether the two teenagers, who are ethnically Vietnamese, should be placed with immediate family members in Rochester or with foster services.
Peterson said he's not sure of the immigration status of the teens. Police Lt. John Edwards said this morning that the girls "had apparently been residents of Rochester in the past."
Edwards said the girls were taken by their mother to visit their grandfather in Vietnam.
The mother returned home, to Rochester, but left the girls behind. It was unclear from initial reports whether the mother intended to return to get them, Edwards said.
The girls returned to the United States using the round-trip tickets they'd used to get to Vietnam, he said.
"They don't believe that mom wants them," Edwards said.
It is not yet known whether the mother will face charges.
"We're not quite sure of anything," Peterson said, "but we're a long way from establishing (whether) there's criminal issues. We're just trying to provide for their welfare right now …; as far as food and shelter."
Capt. James Pittenger said on Wednesday that a translator is working with social services and the girls, who speak little to no English, to determine what happened.
The girls' older sister and brother-in-law visited with police at the law enforcement center Wednesday afternoon.
The names of the teenagers have not been released.
Staff writer Jeffrey Pieters contributed to this report.