Thursday, 4:30 PM
Vermont woman to be charged tomorrow in London flight disruption
By Mac Daniel and John R. Ellement,
Federal agents have detained the woman on a warrantless arrest after the woman allegedly disrupted a United Airlines flight from London to Washington, D.C.
The flight was diverted to Logan International Airport this morning after the unruly female had to be restrained by passengers.
The woman is expected to be held overnight and US Attorney Michael J. Sullivan plans to file criminal charges early tomorrow, officials said.
"While we will not discuss the evidence, or the specific charges, we can say that, at this time, there is no evidence that this was a terrorist related incident," said a statement issued late Wednesday by Sullivan's office.
The woman, who is 59-years-old and from Vermont, was found to be carrying hand cream and matches in her carry-on luggage, a Transportation Security Administration spokesman said through a recorded announcement.
Hand creams are among items prohibited on all flights after British authorities said they disrupted a plot to blow up several international flights using liquids and gels. Matches are not a restricted item on airplanes, the TSA official said.
Another passenger was questioned by authorities after the plane landed about "other issues" unrelated to the disruption, said Massport CEO Thomas J. Kinton. He did not elaborate.
"I think there may have been one other person questioned on arrival for issues not related to this," he said.
Governor Mitt Romney said that second person had an "immigration issue" and was due to be taken into custody in Washington, D.C., when the plane landed. The two incidents are unrelated, federal officials said.
United spokesman Brandon Borrman said a female passenger was spotted engaging in some "suspicious" activity, but he could not immediately say what the activity was.
An FBI spokeswoman said the bound passenger was suffering from some form of claustrophobia or panic attack who became unruly on board the flight. She was later restrained with the help of passengers and bound in the back of the plane until the flight landed.
Joan Bartko and daughter Katie Bartko, of Manassas, Va., were on the flight and said they saw the woman walking repeatedly back and forth towards the bathroom. They said she was extremely agitated and was wearing multiple sweatshirts as she insisted she had to go to the bathroom.
After an argument broke out between the woman and a member of the flight crew, two male passengers stepped in and subdued the woman. After a member of the crew provided handcuffs, the woman was taken to the back of the plane, where the two passengers -- an unidentified corrections officer and a federal air marshal in training -- sat on either side of the woman until the plane landed.
"It was very frightening, especially after the terrorist thing last week," said Katie Bartko.
The United Airlines flight landed at Logan around 10:20 a.m. carrying 182 pasengers and 12 crew members. It was bound for Dulles International Airport after taking off from London's Heathrow Airport.
The unidentified woman is currently under arrest by Massachusetts State Police for interfering with an international flight.
State Police and federal agencies took control of the plane after it landed, immediately sending bomb-sniffing dogs on board to not only check out the woman's carry-on luggage but all carry-on luggage on board.
Passengers were later safely off-loaded, went through customs and were questioned, officials said. A spokesman for the Massachusetts Port Authority said all luggage on the plane was also re-checked by bomb-sniffing dogs.
Passengers were expected to be bused from Terminal E to Terminal C this afternoon, where they reboarded a flight to Washington.
Last week, British authorities said they foiled a terror plot to blow up trans-Atlantic flights from London to the United States, raising the threat levels for domestic and international flights.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report