Southwest passenger en route to San Jose spots man texting about molesting kids, police say

An observant and tech-savvy Southwest passenger noticed a man en route to San Jose texting to a babysitter he is dating about sexually molesting young children, police said, and captured his electronic conversation on her cell phone.

She told a flight crew member. Police and the FBI were waiting at Mineta San Jose International Airport, leading to the arrest of Michael Kellar, 56, and Gail Burnworth, 50, the woman he was allegedly texting. Police said Kellar was in a relationship with Burnworth, who was caring for the children. Both are from Tacoma, Washington.

Kellar declined to be interviewed. Police say Kellar initially dismissed the texts as "fantasy and role playing." 

Kellar was booked into the Santa Clara County Jail on suspicion of attempted child molestation and solicitation of a sex crime involving two children, ages 5 and 7. Burnworth was booked into the Pierce County Jail in Washington State on suspicion of sexual exploitation of a minor, rape of a child in the first degree and dealing in depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

In a statement by police, the female passenger noticed what was going on during her flight from Seattle to Silicon Valley on July 31. Kellar was using a large smartphone with enlarged font, police said, and she saw him texting a woman police later identified as Burnworth about molesting the children. The children lived in Burnworth's home, the Mercury News reported.

Police say Kellar allegedly made the sexual requests and Burnworth allegedly carried them out.

Members of the San Jose Police Department's Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and the FBI assisted with the case.

Kellar is expected to make his first court appearance Monday morning.

The children have been placed in protective custody.