Southwest Pilot Accused Of Stalking

Court sketch of Blackwell, a Southwest Airlines pilot accused of stalking 26 women. sketch by artist Amy Stein
A federal magistrate in New Mexico has denied a prosecutor's motion to jail an airline pilot accused of preying on women in six states.

In an Albuquerque court, 47-year-old Southwest Airlines pilot Jeffrey Blackwell was charged with stalking women by phone in New Mexico and other states and threatening to kill them, reports CBS News Correspondent Bob McNamara.

"It really scared these women. He had personal information on them," said Albuquerque police officer Martin Smith. "That scared them beyond belief."

Police records accuse Blackwell of terrorizing at least 26 women, in no less than 6 states from Pennsylvania to California, between November of last year and last May.

Smith said victims were stalked for months. He even knew one woman's daily routine.

He knew "her route to school, where she lived. Even personal information -- that she had a black and white cat," Smith told McNamara.

In one obscenity-laced call to a Pennsylvania woman, an audio transcript of remarks believed to be made by Blackwell has him allegedly threatening one victim: "I'm coming over. It may not be tonight. It may not be next time. But I know what your schedule is, when your husband's here and not here." Then the caller warned, "I'll come over to your house. I'm going to (obscenity) rape you."

Smith eventually traced the calls to a calling card purchased at a Gaithersburg, Maryland Sam's Club, near Blackwell's home.

Police say about 90 percent of the women harassed were Southwest Airlines passengers. Investigators are probing whether the airline's computer reservation system - with access to customer names and phone numbers - helped give the alleged pilot-predator his unsuspecting prey.

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines placed Blackwell on leave last June. A company spokesperson said, "He's innocent until proven guilty."

But he won't be back on the job anytime soon. His pilot's license and passport have been surrendered, and the judge restricted Blackwell's travel to New Mexico where he was indicted, and Maryland, where he lives.