Court Sees Chilling Plane Texts on Alleged Child Abuse

'I'm just so thankful the kids are safe,' says woman who reported fellow passenger
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 9, 2017 4:31 AM CDT

(Newser) – The chilling text messages that alerted an airline passenger to suspected child abuse were revealed in court documents Monday. Investigators say Michael Kellar, 56, discussed drugging and raping two children, ages 5 and 7, that 50-year-old Gail Burnworth would be looking after, the Los Angeles Times reports. In messages that a fellow passenger on the Southwest Airlines flight from Seattle to San Jose, Calif., spotted on Kellar's phone and reported to authorities, the pair discussed drugging the children with Benadryl when other adults at a Tacoma, Wash., residence were out. Burnworth agreed to film herself molesting the children as they slept, and to film Kellar raping the children, authorities say.

story continues below

Kellar and Burnworth have both been charged in federal court with attempted enticement of a minor and conspiracy to produce child pornography. Prosecutors say Burnworth has confessed to sending Kellar at least 20 other videos of the children. The woman who inadvertently spotted the large-font messages, took photos of them, and alerted flight crew is an early-childhood educator trained to spot signs of abuse. Police say her actions were heroic, though she tells the San Jose Mercury News that she doesn't want to be in the spotlight. "I don't need a bunch of attention. I'm just so thankful the kids are safe," she says, adding that she hopes others will speak up when they see something wrong. (Read more child sex abuse stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.