2 held in mo­lesta­tion plot

Flier is ar­rested af­ter woman sees lurid text mes­sages about chil­dren, of­fi­cials say.

Los Angeles Times - - CITY & STATE - By Joseph Serna joseph.serna@la­times.com Twit­ter: @JosephSerna

fed­eral com­plaint un­sealed Monday al­leges in graphic de­tail the ex­tent to which a man aboard a flight from Seat­tle to San Jose dis­cussed in text mes­sages that he planned to mo­lest chil­dren.

The mes­sages, ex­changed be­tween Ta­coma, Wash., res­i­dents Michael Keller, 56, and Gail Burn­worth, 50, took place as Kel­lar flew into the Bay Area for work on July 31, fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tors said.

The cou­ple dis­cussed drug­ging and rap­ing two of the three chil­dren who lived with Burn­worth, her ex-hus­sen­ger band and her ex-hus­band’s wife, the com­plaint says. One mes­sage said the vic­tims are 5 and 7 years old.

While Kel­lar and Burn­worth texted, an­other pas- on the South­west Air­lines flight snapped a photo of his phone, pros­e­cu­tors said. The pas­sen­ger alerted a flight crew mem­ber of what she saw. The flight crew alerted po­lice, who took Kel­lar into cus­tody when they landed.

The pas­sen­ger’s photo re­vealed that Burn­worth told Kel­lar that she would have the chil­dren to her­self Sun­day and that she would drug them with Be­nadryl, then record her­self mo­lest­ing them while they slept, the com­plaint says.

She also agreed to film Kel­lar rap­ing the vic­tims while they slept, the com­plaint says.

Other mes­sages found on their phones showed them dis­cussing bes­tial­ity, ac­cord­ing to the com­plaint.

If it hadn’t been for the ac­tions of that pas­sen­ger — a preschool teacher on va­ca­tion — Kel­lar and Burn­worth could still be free, said San Jose Po­lice Sgt. Brian Spears, who leads the Sil­i­con Val­ley’s In­ter­net Crimes Against Chil­dren task force.

“One minute she is on her way to visit fam­ily on her va­ca­tion, the next thing you know her ac­tions saved two chil­dren from con­tin­u­ous mo­lesta­tion,” Spears said. “I feel she is ab­so­lutely a hero and was para­mount to this in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

The day af­ter the flight, Spears vis­ited the woman to thank her.

“I felt that she needed to be told in per­son she is our hero. I was blessed to meet her, gave her a big hug and said thank you,” Spears said. “She was emo­tional. She said ‘I just knew some­thing was wrong ’ and she felt it in her heart.”

While in cus­tody at the air­port, Kel­lar said the text mes­sages were just fan­tasies that he dis­cussed with Burn­worth be­cause they were into spe­cific sex­ual fetishes.

Im­me­di­ately af­ter the in­ter­view, Kel­lar was ar­rested by San Jose po­lice. Au­thor­i­ties alerted po­lice in Seat­tle, who tracked down Burn­worth at a neigh­bor’s home where she was hous­esit­ting.

Burn­worth, like Kel­lar, ac­knowl­edged be­ing sex­u­ally aroused by chil­dren, pros­e­cu­tors said. Burn­worth said she “prob­a­bly” would have helped Kel­lar mo­lest the vic­tims de­scribed in the text mes­sages and ad­mit­ted that she had al­ready made as many as 20 videos of the two vic­tims and sent them to Kel­lar, ac­cord­ing to the com­plaint.

One of the mes­sages in the com­plaint showed Kel­lar ask­ing Burn­worth, “you can do this or are you just say­ing this???” to which Burn­worth replies, “No I think I can do it if I don’t have par­ents over my shoul­der or wor­ried about who’s go­ing to walk in on me And then on Sun­day I will have the kids no par­ents just kids.”

Both were charged Monday with at­tempted en­tice­ment of a mi­nor, in­clud­ing rape of a child and con­spir­acy to pro­duce child pornog­ra­phy. Kel­lar re­mains in cus­tody in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia pend­ing his ex­tra­di­tion back to Wash­ing­ton.

San Jose Po­lice Depart­ment

MICHAEL KEL­LAR, 56, and Gail Burn­worth, 50, both of Ta­coma, Wash., dis­cussed drug­ging and rap­ing two chil­dren who lived with her, of­fi­cials say.

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