CHICAGO — What to do with Marilyn Hartman?
That’s the question at a hearing Thursday for a 66-year-old woman dubbed the “serial stowaway” for a history of trying to sneak onto commercial jets without a ticket. She’s behind bars, not because she faces charges that she slipped onto a jet from Chicago to London, but because of what the judge who set her free told her not to do: She returned to the airport.
Now, two months after a judge ordered Hartman held without bond — a move typically reserved for dangerous offenders such as murder suspects — her attorney is expected to seek her release from jail.
Parle Roe-Taylor won’t say whether mental health professionals have concluded Hartman is legally sane as they have before. Nor will she say if she’s found a mental health facility or another place to stay for Hartman.
But she says Hartman doesn’t belong in jail.
“She is not violent, she’s not demonstrated to be a harm to herself. There is no reason to take her out of society,” said Roe-Taylor, a Cook County public defender’s office attorney.
But that might happen. After years of arrests followed by brief stays in jails and mental health facilities, Hartman is in big legal trouble. Because she allegedly remained in the airport intending to commit theft — a flight she didn’t pay for — and boarded the jet for the same reason, she faces felony burglary charges that carry a maximum sentence of seven years in prison. She’s also charged with felony criminal trespassing.
The hearing is the latest chapter in a story that’s played out the past decade in Chicago, Hawaii, San Francisco, Florida and elsewhere. It will again display the case of a woman who frustrates the legal system — voiced by a judge in 2016 when Hartman was arrested at O’Hare International Airport after being placed on mental health probation and released to a nursing home.
“We can’t keep doing this over and over and over again,” Cook County Circuit Judge William Raines said.
Hartman has been nabbed in and near airports dozens of times and made it onto planes maybe half-dozen times. Recently, she made it into the air on a flight from Chicago to London.
Why she does it is unclear.