Thursday, August 3, 2017

Man arrested after Southwest passenger says she saw him texting 'about molesting children,' police say

A man aboard a Southwest Airlines flight was arrested after a fellow passenger said she witnessed him texting about child molestation, police in California said.

The woman, who was on a Southwest Airlines flight from Seattle to San Jose on Monday, told authorities she saw the man -- identified by police as 56-year-old Tacoma, Washington, resident Michael Kellar -- using a large smartphone with an enlarged font to text about "sexually molesting young children," according to the San Jose Police Department.

The witness was seated behind Kellar, police said in a statement. She then alerted the flight crew, who in turn contacted San Jose Police working inside the airport terminal upon landing, police said. Kellar was then detained, according to police.

During an investigation, authorities determined that 50-year-old Gail Burnworth -- also of Tacoma, Washington -- had been "engaged in inappropriate sexual texts with Kellar," police said.

Two children, ages 5 and 7, have been identified as victims, police said.

Kellar was booked into the Santa Clara County Jail on two counts of attempted child molestation and two counts of solicitation of a sex crime, police said.

Burnworth was arrested and booked in the Pierce County Jail in Washington and was charged with sexual exploitation of a minor, rape of a child in the first degree and dealing in depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct, police said.

A spokesperson for the San Jose Police Department told ABC News that Kellar had been holding his smartphone close to his face and in the line of vision of the passenger who reported him.

Kellar freely consented to the search of his phone and chalked up the texts as fantasy and role-playing, the spokesperson said.

ABC News could not immediately reach Kellar and Burnworth for comment. It is unclear if they have retained attorneys or entered pleas to the charges against them.

SEATTLE - Disturbing text messages spotted by a passenger on an airplane led to the arrest of a Tacoma woman and another man, accused of child exploitation and rape, according to Seattle Police.

Detectives in Seattle were contacted by members of the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force in San Jose, Calif. after a passenger reported seeing the text messages while on board a flight from Sea-Tac Airport to San Jose last month.

The passenger told investigators the man had a over-sized phone which displayed large text. The passenger said they witnessed the man texting disturbing content, which involved comments about sexual exploitation of children.

The concerned passenger was able to capture images of the texts and contacted authorities when the plane landed. The man was detained by police and San Jose ICAC detectives took over the case.

The detectives identified the text message recipient as a woman who lives in the Tacoma area. They also said the woman had access to children either as a caregiver or a babysitter.

San Jose detectives contacted Seattle Police, the lead ICAC agency in Washington State and detectives located the woman at a home in Tacoma. They said she lived there with her ex-husband, his wife and three children.

The detectives obtained search warrants for the Tacoma home and the residence of the man from the plane.

The woman was located, interviewed by detectives, then arrested and booked into the Pierce County Jail.

The King County Prosecutor's Office is now reviewing the case and the evidence recovered from the search warrants to determine charges. They've also contacted the U.S. Attorney's Office to determine if any federal charges could apply.


Jim B said...

Someone was bold enough to care and collect evidence.

My compliments.

Anonymous said...

Take them out and shoot them both one time in the forehead. Let God determine what's real or fantasy. The woman on the plane who reported him, is just a hero plain and simple. Time some more of us used our voices for a good purpose.