‘Serial Stowaway’ Grounded While Awaiting Trial

Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw

Marilyn Hartman, the 66-year-old Illinois woman who has been nicknamed a "serial stowaway" because of her many – and sometimes successful -- attempts to sneak onto commercial airline flights, is mentally fit to stand trial, a judge in Chicago has ruled. 

Hartman's bail was set at $10,000. She will have to wear an ankle monitor and live at a facility called A Safe Haven in Chicago for people who are awaiting trial.

The judge at the fitness hearing ordered Hartman to stay away from airports and bus or train stations. CNN affiliate WGN reported the ruling comes a few months after the same judge had ruled Hartman was unfit to stand trial. 

"She was oriented, she was cooperative, there was no agitation,'' the judge said Wednesday, according to the Chicago Tribune. "She understood the difference between a bench and a jury trial.'' Hartman will return to court August 27 for a status hearing.

Parle Row-Taylor, Hartman's public defender, said her client is cooperating and is taking the developments in her case "one day at a time."

In January, Hartman was arrested at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport after British officials had detained her in London. She was charged with a misdemeanor count of trespassing and one felony count of theft after she succeeded in travelling from Chicago to London without a passport or boarding pass.

A week later she was arrested again at O'Hare on charges of misdemeanor criminal trespass and violation of bail bond.

Hartman has been at this for years. Her ‘serial stowaway’ nickname started catching on after she repeatedly tried to board flights at SFO to Hawaii without a ticket. In 2014, she was sentenced to probation and ordered to stay away from that airport.

She made national headlines in August 2014, when she was arrested at LAX for successfully boarding a flight from SJC without a ticket. She pleaded no contest to the charges and was sentenced to probation. The next day she was arrested again at LAX

Her streak continued at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix. On August 14, Hartman was given a warning for trying to enter a security checkpoint without a ticket. Twelve days later, she was arrested in an airport terminal for criminal trespass. A day after that, Hartman was again seen loitering around a security checkpoint, Phoenix police said.

She was arrested in Florida in 2015. Another arrest followed at O'Hare in 2016 for violating her probation, which forbid her from setting foot on airport property. She was sentenced to six months of house arrest in a mental health facility for violating court orders to stay away from airports, WBBM reported.

Reporters who have followed her arrests said the success of her evasive maneuvers stems from her ability to blend into a crowd as a seemingly harmless, elderly white woman.

Bruce Parkinson

Bruce Parkinson Editor-in-Chief

An observer and analyst of the Canadian and international travel industries for over 25 years, Bruce uses the pre-dawn hours to prepare a daily news and information package to keep industry members up to date.

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