Plane passenger sees man texting about sexually assaulting children

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Michael Kellar, Gail Burnworth

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Two people were arrested after a quick-thinking airline passenger spotted a man texting about sexually assaulting children.

An unnamed woman was on the Southwest Airlines flight from Seattle to San Jose on Monday when she noticed the man sitting in front of her texting about the alleged abuse, according to The Mercury News. To best preserve the evidence, she snapped photos of the texts with her own phone and alerted the flight crew of the conversation.

Members of the crew then notified officers stationed at the Mineta San Jose International Airport, and 56-year-old Michael Kellar was arrested.

Following an interview with Kellar, law enforcement in Seattle was notified and texts led officers to 50-year-old Gail Burnworth in Tacoma, Washington, where two children, ages 5 and 7, were allegedly being sexually assaulted.

Investigators believe Kellar was making sexual requests for the children and Burnworth was carrying them out, the newspaper reports.

“We always preach ‘If you see something, say something.’ It was apparent to her to say something. She wasn’t going to take this home,” said San Jose sex-crimes Detective Nick Jourdenais. “She sees herself as a guardian and protector. It should be acknowledged.”

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.