Man threatens woman on flight with knife to her neck

A Utah man is facing federal charges for using a straightedge razor during an airplane flight to threaten a woman.

The 41-year-old Merrill Darrell Fackrell was charged Tuesday in District Court with assault with a dangerous weapon and carrying a weapon on an aircraft.

JetBlue Flight 871 left John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City on Monday en route to Salt Lake City. A wife and husband were seated in the middle and aisle seats in Fackrell’s row while he sat in a window seat.

As the husband watched a movie, Fackrell had a “long and varied” conversation with the wife. According to the criminal complaint, Fackrell also consumed “several alcoholic beverages.”.

When the woman put on headphones and was watching a movie, police say Fackrell put his hand over her screen and told her to pause it. As the woman removed her headphones, she realized Fackrell had his hand clutched with what looked like a knife inches from her skin near the collar of her shirt.

According to the charges, Fackrell stood up and yelled, “She’s going to be OK,” and “No one should worry,” and also told her husband to leave.

While the husband went to the front of the plane for help, the wife ran for the aisle. Despite Fackrell’s efforts to stop her, she broke free and ran to the front of the plane, according to the complaint.

In an interview with reporters Wednesday afternoon, the woman said her husband did not know that Fackrell was threatening her when he went for help.

“He was going to get help because he knew something was really off with Fackrell and had had enough,” the woman explained. “(My husband) was only a few steps ahead of me when I lunged into the aisle. He didn’t knowingly leave me to handle a man with a weapon all by myself.”

According to police, after the couple moved to the front of the plane, a passenger across the aisle confronted Fackrell and convinced him to put down the weapon. After passing the weapon off to crew members, the passenger sat with Fackrell until the flight was over.

It was determined that the weapon was a wood-handled straightedge razor with a 1- to 2-inch blade. According to court records, the victims are seeking a no-contact order.