By Andrea Mitchell, Haley Talbot and Abigail Williams
Fallon Smart was a high school sophomore when she was killed in a hit and run at an intersection near her school in August of 2016 just before her 16th birthday. Local law enforcement say Saudi national Abdulrahman Sameer Noorah was charged with the crime but escaped before he could ever face trial.
Now more than a year later, Noorah is still at large and Fallon’s mother, Fawn Lengvenis, says there is no justice.
“Honestly, my daughter deserved better,” Lengvenis told NBC News.
Noorah is just one of five Saudi students attending college in Oregon who has been accused of serious crimes — and then vanished before facing possible prosecution. As first reported by the Oregonian newspaper and verified by NBC News, the accused include two accused rapists, a pair of suspected hit-and-run drivers and a man accused of 10 counts of encouraging child sex abuse.
In the case of Fallon, details of Noorah’s disappearance have led the U.S. Marshals Service to believe the Saudi government directly helped the alleged criminal flee before his 2017 trial, officials said.
“There is a pattern ... people accused of very violent crimes being swept out of the country before ever even seeing trial or paying for the crimes they've been found to commit,” Lengvenis said. “It's very surprising and very unsettling.
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Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden has publicly expressed concerns about the series of cases with Saudi students in his home state, raising the issue directly with FBI Director Chris Wray and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats in a hearing this week.
Wyden told NBC News he will keep pushing until he receives answers.
“Maybe you think that your government can just sweep in there with private planes, come up with illicit passports, and whisk everybody out,” he said. “Well, they should know that we Oregonians are very determined now. We are committed to making sure that we stay active until justice is done.”
In the case of Fallon’s death, Noorah was charged with three counts of reckless endangerment and first degree manslaughter, according to the charging documents. The Saudi national pleaded not guilty, was released on bail and placed under house arrest with a GPS ankle bracelet.
U.S. Marshal Eric Wahlstrom confirmed the Saudi consulate paid the $100,000 fee. The embassy of Saudi Arabia did not provide a comment when reached by NBC News.
Two weeks before his court appointment, Noorah disappeared, according to the U.S. Marshals Service.
“He never should've been out on bail. We advocated very strongly for him not to be released on bail,” Lengvenis says. “He was a very obvious flight risk. He had no ties here in the United States.”
Photos provided by local law enforcement show a black SUV picking the Saudi student up from his home. Shortly afterward Noorah’s ankle bracelet was cut off, officials said.
Asked about the Saudi’s disappearance, former CIA Director John Brennan, who is an NBC News/MSNBC senior national security and intelligence contributor, said authoritarian regimes don’t abide by the rules.
“With a person like Mohammad Bin Salman, who apparently was given a pass by this administration with the brutal and horrific killing of Jamal Khashoggi, to think that they would stop short of trying to get somebody out of the country in the dead of night to avoid a trial and publicity … I don't think they would hesitate for one moment,” Brennan said, referring to the killing of the Washington Post contributor.
While the investigation into Fallon’s death remains ongoing, details of Noorah’s disappearance have led local law enforcement to believe the Saudi government is behind his escape. The U.S. Marshals Service said they believe Noorah used a forged passport and escaped on a private plane.
Homeland Security confirmed he re-entered Saudi Arabia five days after vanishing from the United States.
Andrea Mitchell, NBC's chief foreign affairs correspondent, is also the host of "Andrea Mitchell Reports," an hour of political news and interviews with top newsmakers on MSNBC.