A Tacoma couple arrested on child sex charges after an airline passenger saw some of their text messages planned to drug children to sexually abuse them, investigators allege.
Police said a woman sitting behind 56-year-old Michael Kellar on a flight July 31 was concerned by text messages about child sex abuse she could see on his phone.
She told the flight crew what she saw, and took photos of the messages to give police when the flight from Sea-Tac Airport landed in San Jose, California.
U.S. attorneys charged Kellar on Friday with attempting to entice a minor into sexual activity.
Kellar and 50-year-old Gail Lynn Burnworth — the person he allegedly was texting — are charged with conspiring to make child pornography.
Investigators have identified two victims, 5 and 7, who they say Burnworth babysat.
Burnworth had her first appearance Monday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma; Kellar was scheduled to have his Tuesday (Aug. 8) in Northern California.
The complaint filed Friday in U.S. District Court and unsealed Monday gives this account:
A San Jose police detective met Kellar when the flight landed, and Kellar agreed to an interview and to give investigators his phone.
It contained text conversations with Burnworth about sexually abusing the children, including a discussion about giving Benadryl to the kids to make sure they were unconscious while being abused.
Kellar said the texts were fantasy, but when investigators spoke with Burnworth in Tacoma, she said she’d sexually assaulted and made child pornography of one of the kids, and had taken naked videos of the other.
She said she sent 15 to 20 photos and videos in emails to Kellar, who she met on a dating website about a year ago.
During the interview, she told investigators she would have let Kellar have sex with one of the children, if she had the opportunity, and that she might have needed to drug the child to do that.
Court records did not list an attorney for either suspect.