TACOMA (CBS SF) — A woman arrested Monday in connection with a suspected child molestation case after what a passenger saw on a flight to San Jose who was accidentally freed was taken back into custody early Friday evening.
While 56-year-old Michael Kellar is still behind bars after being arrested at San Jose International Airport earlier this week, his girlfriend and alleged partner in crime – 50-year-old Gail Burnworth – was allowed to walk free after federal prosecutors failed to charge her with a crime in time to prevent her release.
According to investigators, a female passenger on a Southwest Airlines flight from Seattle to San Jose last Monday observed a male passenger seated in front of her texting last Monday.
The male passenger — identified as Kellar — was utilizing a large smartphone with enlarged font. The female passenger could see that Kellar was texting about sexually molesting young children.
The passenger alerted the flight crew and the San Jose police were contacted. An officer working inside the terminal at Mineta San José International Airport detained Kellar and San Jose detectives immediately responded to the scene along with the San Francisco Division of the FBI.
A follow-up investigation revealed an adult female suspect — Burnworth — who also lived in Tacoma engaged in inappropriate sexual texts with Kellar. Additionally, two children — aged 5 and 7 — were identified as victims.
Members of the Seattle ICAC and Seattle Division of the FBI took Burnworth, into custody at her Tacoma residence.
Prosecutors had 72 hours to charge her with a crime or let her go, but they missed that deadline and she walked out of jail.
Burnworth has now been charged and was arrested again just after 5 p.m. Friday.
Kellar is being held without bond and has a court appearance on Monday.
The big unanswered remains: how did federal prosecutors miss this critical deadline and let her go free in the first place?