One young pre-school teacher saved two young children from being sexually abused when she saw a man in front of her on an airplane texting his girlfriend about sexually molesting the children she was babysitting.
The teacher was on a Southwest Airlines flight from Seattle to San Jose on July 31 when she noticed 56-year-old Michael Kellar of Tacoma, Washington, sitting in front of her, texting his girlfriend, 50-year-old Gail Burnworth, who was babysitting two children aged 7 and 5. Burnworth was obeying Kellar’s instructions, according to police.
Kellar was using an enlarged font and big smartphone screen, enabling the teacher to read what he was writing. San Jose sex-crimes detective Nick Jourdenais told the Mercury News, “It was in large font, and she sees certain words and starts contemplating there’s something bigger there. Then the conversation transitions to children. That’s the moment when she decided to preserve the evidence as best as she could.”
The teacher took pictures from behind Kellar without him noticing, then alerted the flight crew. An attendant alerted a San Jose police officer working inside the terminal. When Kellar disembarked, FBI agents and police detained him. Police cooperated with detectives in Seattle to use Kellar's phone to find the Tacoma home where Burnworth was.
Kellar was booked into the Santa Clara County Jail on two counts of Attempted Child Molestation. Burnworth was booked into the Pierce County (WA) Jail for Sexual Exploitation of a Minor, Rape of a Child 1st Degree and Dealing in Depictions of a minor Engaged in Sexually Explicit Conduct.
Jourdenais said, “It’s kind of mind-blowing. 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.”