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Serial Stowaway Marilyn Hartman Arrested Again

CBS 2's Chris Tye and Jeremy Ross contributed to this report.

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Just two days after we heard her speak for the first time in an interview with CBS 2 Investigator Brad Edwards, serial stowaway Marilyn Hartman has been arrested again.

Chicago Police confirmed that Hartman, 69, was arrested by its officers at O'Hare International Airport for criminal trespass.

A source told Edwards that Hartman's ankle bracelet was apparently not initially pinging — so she snuck away from custody at the West Side halfway house where sources said she is residing.

The Cook County Sheriff's office reported its Electronic Monitoring Unit investigators tracked her movement by the GPS on her ankle bracelet. The sheriff's office was notified that Hartman had left the residential facility, and began looking for her right away.

Sheriff's office staff tried to contact Hartman with the phone built into her electronic monitoring device, but she didn't answer. But they did learn she was headed for O'Hare.

The sheriff's office said they notified Chicago Police that Hartman appeared to be headed to the airport and was in the area of Terminal 1 at 1:38 p.m.

A source said the Transportation Security Administration is familiar enough with Hartman that they spotted her and notified law enforcement. She made it to Terminal 2, but did not get farther than that. Meanwhile, an alarm siren was activated on Hartman's device and she was taken into custody, the sheriff's office said.

Hartman did not enter any secure areas, the sheriff's office said.

The sheriff's office is planning to seek approval for a felony escape charge against Hartman.

Authorities at A Safe Haven, the nonprofit home where Hartman has been residing, told CBS 2 they had no comment Tuesday evening on what exactly transpired.

Hartman has been arrested multiple times at O'Hare International Airport.

Among other incidents, she was sentenced to 18 months of probation in March after pleading guilty in March 2019 to sneaking past Chicago airport security, boarding a plane and flying to London without a ticket the year before.

She was arrested again in October 2019 after being spotted at Terminal 1, Checkpoint 2 at O'Hare and was seen attempting to pass through security without a boarding pass or identification. Police said by then, Hartman was on probation for a prior trespass incident and was prohibited from going to O'Hare or Midway international airports without a boarding pass.

Audio recordings, obtained by the CBS 2 Investigators, reveal a Transportation Security Administration agent spotted her once again at O'Hare on October 10, 2019, and called police.

"There's been a Marilyn sighting over here," said one TSA agent.

The dispatcher then asked the agent, "Can you keep an eye on her for me?"

From the Cook County jail, she wrote she wanted: "... To apologize ... My mea culpa to law enforcement, including the TSA ... it was not my intention to make their jobs more difficult."

In late March 2020, Hartman was released from Cook County Jail and put on home monitoring after being attacked at the jail, and also after the coronavirus pandemic became a concern for inmates.

Law enforcement said this latest incident violated the terms of Hartman's electronic monitoring, which she was on as a consequence of that last time she tried to poach a plane ride.

"I don't think there is such a thing as rehabilitation in this particular case," CBS 2 Legal Analyst Irv Miller told CBS 2's Jeremy Ross.

Miller said Hartman is already facing a felony charge for her previous crime, and the allegations Tuesday could add another felony.

Edwards talked exclusively with Hartman beginning in October 2019 for a report that aired this past Sunday night. She told Edwards she thought she had taken at least 30 flights over the years.

The CBS 2 Investigators -- through a series of sources, public records requests, Ms. Hartman's recollections, and more -- compiled a forensic accounting of her free rides. She went to Jacksonville, Seattle, Phoenix, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Minneapolis, San Francisco, and even London.

She said it began in 2002. Hartman recalled, "The first time I was able to to get through I flew to Copenhagen" and, "The second time I flew into Paris."

It wasn't until some 12 years later that she popped on the radar of law enforcement, when she flew, sans ticket, flew from San Jose to Los Angeles on Aug. 14, 2014. A judge then warned her, don't do it again.

Seven months later, in April 2015 in Jacksonville, she appeared in court where her fate was sealed: "Ms. Hartman has been determined by forensic psychologists to be incompetent to proceed."

"I know they keep emphasizing the mental illness … law enforcement … would like to have that in place. but umm … (laughs) no, I'm pretty good," she told Edwards.

Good at getting away with it.

Per law enforcement documents, as early as January 2015, Hartman was on the "trespass list." In April 2015, documents show she was known as a "serial stowaway." In May 2015, she was "... considered a high security risk." And, in July that year: a "habitual stowaway."

So, how did she get away with taking so many flights for so long, without a ticket or a boarding pass?

"The thing I've got to tell you. I have never been able to board a plane by myself. I was always let through," Hartman revealed. "I mean I was able to go through the security line without a boarding pass."

In January 2018, reports obtained by the CBS2 Investigators say Hartman, "evaded the security process" "and document / ticket check" and took a $3428 flight to London on a British Airways plane.

She had become omnipresent at TSA checkpoints, with her picture at security checkpoints.

She described to CBS 2 how she did it.

"I got by them, this is the thing that is so crazy, by following someone they would be carrying like a blue bag," she said. "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."

Hartman and why she took all those flights.

As to what has motivated her to take the flights, Hartman said: "When I took the plane ride, I wasn't happy. I wasn't 'Oh, I'm going here or there'— I was actually in a depressed state of mind."

Diagnosed bipolar, it wasn't a manic episode that set off the flight trigger, it was the opposite. On back-to-back days in 2015, she admitted she was so depressed that her desperation got her caught, both times.

In one phone conversation from jail, Edwards asked Hartman if she felt a fight or flight response and literally took a flight.

She answered: "That is literally what happened."

She spoke later about her mental health. "I'm bipolar. And this is something I've rejected for years."

A plea deal had already been struck for Hartman in connection with her 2019 arrest, and it was supposed to be finalized in early April when all parties were back in court. The judge had said Hartman would not get another probation.

"This is one too many," Miller said.

Ross asked Miller if this incident is likely to force the judge's hand into making sure Hartman serves prison time.

"The judge was inclined to give her penitentiary time before this happened," Miller said. "I suspect the judge is going to be inclined to not look favorably on a probation sentence and very favorably on a jail sentence."

If charged with felony escape, Hartman could be in bond court on Wednesday.

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