Woman On Flight Helped Save Kids From Sexual Abuse After She Saw A Man’s Texts

August 6, 2017
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A passenger aboard a flight recently assisted police save two young children after she noted the man in front of her texting about sexually abusing them, authorities said.

The woman, who’s  a Seattle-area preschool teacher, was on a Southwest Airlines flight from Seattle to San Jose when she noticed the passenger sitting right in front of her texting disturbing messages relating to sexually molesting young children, police said.

The enlarged font and big smartphone screen the man used, enabled her to read and take pictures of the messages and alert the flight crew. When the plane landed, an attendant notified a San Jose police officer working inside the terminal.

“It was in large font, and she sees certain words and starts contemplating there’s something bigger there,” San Jose sex-crimes detective, Nick Jourdenais said “Then the conversation transitions to children. That’s the moment when she decided to preserve the evidence as best as she could.”

Police then detained the passenger, 56-year-old Michael Kellar of Tacoma, Washington, in the airport terminal.

Authorities were able to use data and evidence from Kellar’s phone to target the Tacoma home where the woman he was texting with lived.

Investigators said 50-year-old Gail Burnworth was reportedly carrying out Kellar’s sexual requests on two young kids, ages 5 and 7 who were later identified as victims.

Burnworth was working as a babysitter, which is exactly how she and Kellar had access to the children, police said.

Police, however, declined to comment on the children’s relationship to the suspects and how the two adults knew each other.

Kellar has been booked into the Santa Clara County jail on two felony counts of attempted child molestation and two felony counts of solicitation of a sex crime and is being held without bail.

Burnworth is being held at Pierce County jail in Washington, for felony counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, rape of a child, as well as dealing in depictions of a minor engaged in a sexually explicit conduct.

Police are now calling the preschool teacher a hero.

It’s kind of mind-blowing,” Jourdenais said. “She gets on a plane, a normal citizen minding her business. A couple of hours later, she’s intervening on quite possibly the most traumatic thing children can go through. This was life-altering for them.”

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