A Washington man has been sentenced to 15 years in prison after he was spotted on a flight by another passenger texting his girlfriend about molesting children.
According to the United States Attorney’s Office in Washington’s Western District, 58-year-old Michael Kellar was on a flight to San Jose in 2017 when a passenger sitting behind him caught site of his text messages to his girlfriend, 52-year-old Gail Lynn Burnworth.
The unidentified passenger read the messages on Kellar’s phone and realized he was giving instructions to Burnworth about using Benadryl to drug and rape two of the three children staying with the woman.
The children were between five- and seven-years-old at the time of the crimes.
When the passenger saw the messages due to the large font on a large smartphone, she snapped an image of the conversation and reported it to an attendant working the flight. The airline employee contacted the police, who confronted Kellar when the plane landed at Mineta San Jose International Airport.
The courts then obtained a search warrant as a result of the messages and found sexually explicit images on Burnworth’s phone and several hundred images of child pornography on Kellar’s laptop inside the home.
Kellar was eventually arrested and convicted of conspiracy to produce child pornography. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison, while Burnworth will be sentenced on March 27 after pleading guilty to distribution of child pornography.
“I commend the airline passenger who spoke up about the disturbing texts she witnessed on her flight,” U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran said in a statement. “We all have had that moment when we question: ‘Do I get involved.’”
The case proves once again the adage “If You See Something, Say Something” continues to ring true.
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