On the surface, the story of Marilyn Hartman’s alleged ninja-like abilities to sneak onto numerous commercial flights might seem somewhat comical. However, the fact of the matter is there is tragedy at the heart of her case.
Marilyn Hartman is a 66-year-old homeless woman who has a long history of suffering from severe depression.
Her so-called “serial stowaway” exploits started back in 2009, according to police records, when Hartman was detained for allegedly attempting to board a flight on Hawaii because she felt she needed to escape the island.
Hartman is currently serving time in a Cook County jail after Judge Donald Panarese Jr. refused her attorney’s plea to reduce the elderly woman’s bond on February 7, 2018.
Hartman was arrested on January 28 at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago for violating her parole from a previous arrest, which took place just a few days prior.
On January 14, police allege that she somehow managed to sneak past all security measures, including ticket agents, TSA, and boarding agents, without a ticket or any form of identification. She made it all the way to London, England’s Heathrow Airport before she was discovered.
As part of the terms of her two-year-long parole, Hartman was explicitly instructed by Panarese to stay away from O’Hare and Chicago Midway Airport and she willingly conceded. Then she was later found by authorities at O’Hare, possibly back to her old tricks.
Defender Argues for Marilyn Hartman’s Release
Her public defender, Parle Roe-Taylor, has argued in court that a stint in county jail is far too harsh a punishment for her client. Instead, she proposed on February 7 that Hartman be enrolled in a not-for-profit facility called A Safe Haven, which is known for providing housing and counseling for homeless former jail inmates.
Additionally, Roe-Taylor suggested that Hartman be electronically monitored to alert authorities if she comes within close proximity of an airport.
Roe-Taylor said Hartman has never posed a physical threat to herself or anyone around her, and that she’s been cooperative and polite taken into custody.
Panarese retorted, “She hasn’t been cooperative with me. I advised her to stay away from the airport…within three days, she was back there.”
The prosecutors were quick to point out that A Safe Haven is located only 20 minutes away from the airports, and that its lack of security creates the ideal situation for her to re-offend.
Marilyn Hartman faces charges of trespassing and felony theft for what happened in London, in addition to more trespassing charges and a bond violation for her return to O’Hare.
On top of that, she’s also been accused of unwittingly and unintentionally impersonating other passengers by answering with a simple “yes” when asked whether she was so-and-so.
Purportedly, these aren’t the acts of a criminal mastermind. Her defenders assert that rather, these are the acts of an unassuming and harmless old woman who has a long-standing history of mental health issues. They say society has failed her because it doesn’t know how to effectively care for the homeless and mentally ill.