9-year-old stowaway is back in Minneapolis; hearing set for Tuesday

  • Article by: PAT PHEIFER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 13, 2013 - 8:11 PM

The 9-year-old boy who sneaked onto a Las Vegas-bound jetliner is in custody awaiting a child protection hearing on Tuesday.


The father of 9-year-old plane stowaway, his face covered in a hoodie and hat to ensure his anonymity, talked to media members, sometimes through sobs, as he was accompanied by MAD DADS V.J. Smith, right, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, a the MAD DADS office in Minneapolis, MN.(DAVID JOLES/STARTRIBUNE) djoles@startribune.com His face covered in a hoodie and hat to ensure his anonymity the father of 9-year-old plane stowaway talk with media members at the office of MadDads at their Lake Street office Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, in Minneapolis, MN.

Photo: David Joles, Star Tribune

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The 9-year-old boy who sneaked aboard a flight from Minneapolis to Las Vegas is back in the Twin Cities, according to V.J. Smith, president of MADDADs, who has been working with the boy’s family.

It’s unclear whether the boy flew back to Minneapolis on Saturday or Sunday. Smith said he is in the custody of Hennepin County, and that a court hearing is scheduled for Tuesday. His parents likely will make a statement after the hearing.

The boy’s case drew national and international media attention after he bypassed three security checkpoints at the airport on Oct. 3 and boarded a Delta flight to Las Vegas without a ticket or a boarding pass.

His escalating behavioral problems came to light a few days later when it was learned that he had made a reconnaissance trip to the airport via light rail the day before the flight. His father spoke to the news media last week, saying he had asked for help with the child in the past, but was told the boy needed to do something worse than running away before authorities could get involved.

On Friday, the Hennepin County attorney’s office filed a petition “for a child in need of protective services,” detailing a monthslong pattern of ­running away and behavior that would be considered criminal if he were older.

The petition starts a process of determining the child’s future — whether he should be removed from his home or, more likely, receive intensive mental and behavioral health treatment to address aggression, outbursts of anger, running away and theft.

The boy and his parents are identified by name in the document, but the Star Trib­une doesn’t identify juveniles in protection or criminal matters. The parents, who moved to the Twin Cities from Illinois several years ago, do not have criminal records in Minnesota, the petition said.


Pat Pheifer • 952-746-3284

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