Preschool Teacher Stops a Suspected Sexual Predator in the Act After Noticing His Text Messages

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A preschool teacher flying Southwest from Seattle to San Jose became a hero when she noticed something suspicious about the man sitting in front of her and decided to act on it.

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The teacher, who doesn't want to be identified in the press, was sitting behind 56-year-old Michael Kellar when she says she noticed him sending sexually explicit messages on his phone. Because he has a large cell phone and was using large text, she also noticed the messages included disturbing details about sexual acts with children.

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Thinking quickly, the teacher quietly took pictures of Kellar's screen on her own cell phone and reported the conversation to the flight crew, who then notified the San Jose Police Department. Kellar was detained by the police once the flight landed.

In an interview, San Jose sex-crimes detective Nick Jourdenais told the Mercury News, "It was in large font, and she sees certain words and starts contemplating there's something bigger there. Then the conversation transitions to children. That's the moment when she decided to preserve the evidence as best as she could."

According to police reports, a follow-up investigation revealed Kellar was texting 50-year-old Gail Burnworth. The text messages allegedly described sexual acts the pair planned to perform on two children, ages 5 and 7, who'd been left in Burnworth's care. The children belong to Burnworth's ex-husband and his new wife.

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In a press conference on Thursday, Sgt. Brian Spears, commander of the SJPD Internet Crimes Against Children task force, said that thanks to this heroic teacher, they were able to rescue the children before any sexual acts could occur.

He adds that the messages were "extremely disturbing -- some of the sex acts talked about not only molesting the children, but performing bestiality." Kellar claims that his text messages were merely sexual fantasy, but he has since been charged with two felony counts of attempted child molestation and two counts of solicitation of a sex crime. Gail Burnworth faces felony charges of sexual exploitation of a minor, rape of a child, and dealing in depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

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"It's kind of mind-blowing," Detective Nick Jourdenais tells the Mercury News of the teacher who rescued these kids. "She gets on a plane, a normal citizen minding her business. A couple of hours later, she's intervening on quite possibly the most traumatic thing children can go through. This was life-altering for them."

"In my eyes she is a hero," Sgt. Spears added in his press conference. "That's what I'm here for -- to recognize her for her heroic actions."

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