Judge Orders ‘Serial Stowaway' Held on $25K Bond

Marilyn Hartman spent a year in Cook County Jail after repeated episodes of attempting to board aircraft at O’Hare and Midway airports

A judge ordered so-called “serial stowaway” Marilyn Hartman held on $25,000 bond Saturday after she was arrested for taking yet another unauthorized flight.

The 66-year-old Grayslake resident was arrested Thursday night after authorities said she boarded a British Airways plane to London.

Hartman was detained by British Customs officials when she arrived at Heathrow Airport on Jan. 15, Chicago police said in a statement.

She initially walked past two TSA pre-check officers in O'Hare International Airport's Terminal 3 but was turned away by a gate agent when she tried to board a Connecticut-bound flight, according to the Cook County State's Attorney's office.

“High definition video captured the defendant’s movements throughout O'Hare Airport,” Assistant State's Attorney Maria McCarthy said.

Authorities said Hartman then boarded a shuttle bus to Terminal 5, blending in with a group of travelers to avoid having to show her identification.

Investigators believe she spent close to 24 hours inside Terminal 5. After spending the night in the Terminal, officials said Hartman was able to sneak by two British-ticket agents—without a boarding pass and in no possession of a passport.

“The defendant then hid in a small room to the side before quickly walking past a customs and border protection agent,” McCarthy said.

Once the plane took off, officials said airline personnel realized she did not belong on the flight and Hartman was detained upon her arrival in London. She was returned to Chicago and taken into custody immediately at O’Hare Airport.

She was charged with one misdemeanor count of criminal trespassing and one felony count of theft greater than $500, in connection with the cost of the plane ticket that she did not possess. 

Hartman spent a year in Cook County Jail after repeated episodes of attempting to board aircraft at O’Hare and Midway airports. During various stages of her confinement, she has been treated for psychiatric issues.

On Saturday, a judge ordered Hartman, who lives in Lake County, held on $25,000 bond with electronic monitoring — but only if she can find a residence in Cook County.

Other conditions of her release include psychiatric treatment, no contact with British Airways or any witnesses. She was also banned from possessing firearms and is not allowed near O'Hare, per the judge's orders.

Hartman has long struggled with homelessness and mental health and has had encounters with authorities at airports across the United States. A year ago, upon her release from Cook County Jail, she was driven by Cook County Sheriff’s deputies to a nursing home in Waukegan. She recently left that facility.

Hartman was next expected to appear in court on Jan. 25.

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