Keller and Burnsworth allegedly, are dating
Kellar was booked in Santa Clara on suspicion of two felony counts each of attempted child molestation and solicitation of a sex crime
He is being held without bail
Burnworth was booked in Pierce County, Washington, on suspicion of felony counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, rape of a child, and dealing in depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct
Police arrested Michael Kellar when the plane traveling from Seattle touched down at Mineta San Jose International Airport on Monday, NBC Bay Area reported.
The witness, said the 56-year-old suspect was sending the illicit messages on his smart phone in plain sight. She was able to read them, she told the news station, because he was sitting right in front of her and using a font bigger than usual.
She snapped photos of the texts and quietly showed them to a crew member, who then contacted authorities. Kellar was detained as the plane arrived at its destination.
“The conversations were very particular in regards to sex acts that were to be performed on… children,” San Jose Police Sgt. Brian Spears told the news station. “Some of the sex acts talked about not only molesting children, but performing bestiality.”
Michael Kellar, 56, and Gail Burnworth, 50, of Tacoma, Washington, were arrested after the public display of pedophilia
San Jose sex-crimes detective Nick Jourdenais hailed the witness as a hero.
“It’s kind of mind-blowing,” he told the Mercury News. “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.”
San Jose police, along with San Francisco-based FBI agents, responded to the call and detained 56-year-old Tacoma resident Michael Kellar. Jourdenais and Michael O’Grady conducted an interview where Kellar freely consented to a search of his phone — he reportedly dismissed his text messages as nothing more than fantasy and role playing. The detectives then contacted their counterparts in Seattle.
An investigation into the abuse also resulted in the arrest of Gail Burnworth, who was on the receiving end of Kellar’s text, authorities said.
Investigators contend that Kellar was making sexual requests for the children and that the woman, identified as 50-year-old Gail Burnworth, was carrying them out.
His co-conspirator, Burnworth, worked as a childcare provider for the children and was involved in “some type of dating relationship” with Kellar.
A passenger seated behind M Kellar aboard a Seattle-San Jose bound Southwest flight said he was typing the illicit texts in plain sight using large fonts.
Authorities also found the two children, ages 5 and 7, who were the subject of the messages.
“If it wasn’t for this young lady’s actions, another sexual assault would have occurred,” Spears said of the passenger.
Kellar was booked into the Santa Clara County Jail on two counts of felony child molestation and two counts of felony solicitation of a sex crime.
Burnworth was being held in the Pierce County Jail in Washington for sexual exploitation of a minor, felony rape of a child in the first degree and felony dealing in depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit content.