A preschool teacher aboard a Southwest Airlines flight from Seattle to San Jose on Monday was able to save two kids, after seeing the man in the seat in front of her allegedly texting about sexually abusing them.
According to a statement from the San Jose Police Department, the accused man — Michael Kellar, 56 — was texting using a large smartphone with enlarged font, which enabled the woman to see what he was texting about. When she realized that he was texting messages about sexually abusing young children, she took photos of his screen and alerted airline staff.
“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 told the Mercury News. “Then the conversation transitions to children. That’s the moment when she decided to preserve the evidence as best as she could.”
Upon landing, a flight attendant notified the police, and Keller was arrested at the airport. An investigation revealed that Keller was texting with a babysitter — Gail Burnworth, 50 — who was watching two young children. According to BuzzFeed, the texts in question allegedly included requests for Burnworth to perform acts of sexual abuse.
Both Keller and Burnworth have been arrested. Keller was booked at the Santa Clara County Jail on two counts of attempted child molestation and two counts of solicitation of a sex crime. Burnworth was booked into the Pierce County Jail in Washington for 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, according to the police report of the incident.
The woman who alerted the police to Keller's texts has been praised as a hero, though the Mercury News reports she's asked to remain anonymous. “It’s kind of mind-blowing,” Jourdenais told the paper. “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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