An airline passenger saw a man in front of her texting about sexually abusing children and used her own cell phone to capture his conversation, police said.
The alert woman then quietly notified crew members on the Seattle-to-San Jose Southwest Airlines flight, who contacted authorities.
The man, Michael Kellar, 56, was arrested on one charge of soliciting a sex crime and two counts of attempted child molestation when the jet touched down at Norm Mineta International Airport, according to investigators.
The woman he was allegedly texting, Gail Burnworth, 50, was arrested at her Tacoma, Wash., home on charges of sexually exploiting a minor, child rape and dealing in child pornography, San Jose police said.
Kellar is also from Tacoma. He is being held without bail in California’s Santa Clara County Jail, online records show.
Burnworth is being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Pierce County Jail, according to online records.
Neither has entered a plea.
Kellar was using a large-screen smart phone with an enlarged font aboard the flight, police said. The woman sitting in the row behind him could see his texts and took photos of them with her cell phone, police said.
Kellar was allegedly talking to Burnworth about two children, ages 5 and 7, who are the abuse victims, investigators said.
The children lived with Burnworth, police said, but their relationship was not revealed.
Kellar initially told officers he had done nothing wrong and was only engaging in role playing and sexual fantasy during his text conversations with Burnworth, police said.
Seattle detectives and FBI agents are investigating the case with the San Jose Police Department’s Internet Crimes Against Children task force.