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Vermont Woman in Court Following Air Scare - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vermont Woman in Court Following Air Scare

Braintree, Vermont - August 17, 2006

Louise Corliss stood on the porch of her Braintree home in disbelief Thursday. She said, "To find out (Catherine Mayo) is our next door neighbor... it's unbelievable!"

Louise and Norman Corliss's neighbor appeared in federal court in Boston Thursday, after she allegedly caused an international incident on a United Airlines flight Wednesday. Norman Corliss said, "It's kind of scary."

Catherine Mayo's passport showed she was on her way home from Pakistan when she allegedly interfered with the crew of United Airlines flight 923. She wore a Rolling Stones t-shirt and no shoes for her federal hearing Thursday. She will remain behind bars until her next court appearance in a week. Thursday in Boston, a public defender told a federal judge her client has serious mental health problems.

Passengers and crew on the London to Washington, D.C. flight said Catherine Mayo appeared agitated and made comments the captain believed were references to Al Qaida. Court documents also showed she urinated on the cabin floor before she was tackled. The plane made an emergency landing at Boston's Logan Airport Wednesday.

Louise Corliss said her neighbor was very quiet: "We've never heard any disturbances."

A padlock hung on Mayo's door in Braintree Thursday. Her landlord tells Channel 3 News that Mayo and her son are fine tenants. Channel 3 found Catherine Mayo's son Josh working at his landlord's sugarhouse next door. He said media attention has been very difficult on his family, and that his mother is a wonderful, nurturing woman who would never hurt anyone. Josh Mayo also said his mom spent very little time in Braintree.

An FBI spokesperson confirmed Mayo brought banned cigarette lighters and a screwdriver onto the plane. Her son Josh said his mom spent a lot of time in Pakistan, where she had a pen pal she met online. Four years ago, she wrote a letter to the Herald of Randolph about a trip to the Asian nation saying, "I have come here by a long strange road. I met Junaid, a Pakistani man, on line before September 11. He is talking about marriage, so I need to get to know him better before I bring him into the U.S. on a fiancé visa. He was refused a visitor visa to the U.S., so I have come here."

Mayo's son doesn't know when he'll see his mom again, and neighbors are hoping the buzz in Braintree quiets down soon. Louise Corliss said, "It could be all innocent. Who knows? Maybe she's taking medicine that made her act this way."

A U.S. Attorney said Catherine Mayo could face 20 years in prison and a quarter-million dollar fine if convicted of interfering with the flight crew. Lawyers said it is important for Mayo to undergo a mental evaluation before her hearing next week.

Court documents showed Mayo was in a constant state of movement on the plane, biting her fingers, rubbing her feet, and pushing up against the cabin wall. She also allegedly told people onboard she knows individuals associated with "two words:" words that once got her kicked off another flight. The captain believed those two words could have been Al Qaida.

The Daily Times of Pakistan has published several articles Catherine Mayo wrote, including articles critical of President Bush.

Channel 3 News has learned Catherine Mayo has no criminal record in Vermont.

Jack Thurston - Channel 3 News

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