A cheerleader who returned Thursday from a three-day odyssey to the Southwest with the suspected killer of a teenage boy said she was abducted because "he needed me for protection," a newspaper reported.

Donna Shaban, 17, arrived at Newark International Airport shortly after midnight aboard an American Airlines flight from Texas, where she had escaped her alleged abductor shortly before his arrest, Port Authority police said.The Sparta High School cheerleader and her mother, Patricia Shaban, were taken from the plane through a private exit and made no public comment.

Michael Ardila, 19, of Wantage Township, N.J., the subject of a nationwide manhunt since a killing in New Jersey Sunday, was captured Tuesday night in Santa Rosa, N.M., after a 75-mile high-speed chase.

Ardila faces New Jersey charges of murder, kidnapping, auto theft and unlawful use of a weapon in the stabbing death early Sunday of Anthony Pompelio, 17, after an all-night party in Sparta.