CBS aired an exclusive interview with “America’s Serial Stowaway.” Then, two days later, Marilyn Hartman was arrested again at O’Hare. She promised she wouldn’t be doing that anymore but addictions bring terribly powerful compulsions. This time, she’s looking at felony charges.
An invisible stowaway
Marilyn Hartman slipped through post-9/11 airport security like a ghost for almost 20 years. Instead of being behind bars, she should be on the payroll as a security consultant. She flew the world over without ever having a ticket, to earn the title “America’s Serial Stowaway.”
The TSA should cut her a bonus every time she manages to board a supposedly secure plane. The good news is that she isn’t a terrorist. The bad news is that the terrorists are studying her tactics harder than the TSA is.
Until now, she never talked about her stowaway methods in detail. Brad Edwards with CBS spent a long time bringing her out of her shell to answer the how and why questions.
The airing of the interview must have triggered her addiction. Two day’s later, on Tuesday, March 16, while wearing her ankle monitor, she slipped out of her halfway-house and headed for O’Hare.
Ms. Hartman doesn’t mind being called “crazy,” she admits that her hobby is crazy. The thing that is really insane is how good she is at evading highly trained airport security specialists.
Even with her profile on the wall of every airport break room and fed into all the AI surveillance software. She admits that her antics as a serial stowaway are “something out of a movie.” That’s the main reason she hasn’t gone public before. “I purposely remained a mystery, because of the crazy factor.”
A “Marilyn sighting”
Edwards first made contact in late 2019 and they became pen pals. He taped their jail house phone calls. The interview plays audio clips including one from her most recent arrest at the time. Then, “a Transportation Security Administration agent spotted her once again at O’Hare on October 10, 2019, and called police.”
As the clip confirms, “There’s been a Marilyn sighting over here,” one TSA agent informs. The dispatcher replied, “can you keep an eye on her for me?” They know she wants to be a quiet stowaway and already have her pegged as “harmless.”
Edwards helped her recollect her travels as a serial stowaway. Over the years since 2002, she’s taken at least 30 flights without ever having a ticket. Even on international flights including London.
“The first time I was able to to get through I flew to Copenhagen.” Then, she recalls, “the second time I flew into Paris.” She got away with it for 12 solid years before anyone started to notice. She simply walks up to a passenger and acts as if she’s with them.
On August 14, 2014, Marilyn flew from San Jose to Los Angeles without a ticket and got snagged. A judge warned her not to do it again. She did. She also got caught again in April 2015 trying to get home from Jacksonville. She got there as a stowaway. When she appeared in court they labeled her a lunatic. “Ms. Hartman has been determined by forensic psychologists to be incompetent to proceed.”
Since January of 2015 she has been on the “trespass list” and considered a “security risk.” Crazy like a fox, she insists. “I got by them, this is the thing that is so crazy, by following someone they would be carrying like a blue bag,” she laughs. “And the next thing I know, I get into the TSA line and TSA lets me through, and they think I’m with the guy with the blue bag.” aviation security expert Jeff Price notes, “for her to be able to repeat that over and over, that is just mind boggling.”