Thursday, August 18

Mother Arrested for Attempted International Burglary After Trying to Fly Son to Beijing

A routine flight out of Virginia’s Dulles Airport on Sept. 4 turned into an international kidnapping case instead.

United Airlines Flight 897, a Boeing 777 with 180 passengers, was on its way to Beijing when it was ordered back to Dulles by the FBI. A woman on board, Wenjing “Linda” Liu, was on the flight with her 4-year-old son.

But the problem stemmed from the specifics of the incident: Liu and her husband had separated and, through an attorney for child custody disputes, had reached an agreement that prohibited either partner from taking their son outside of the country.

The boy’s father, fearing that Liu was taking their son to China permanently, alerted authorities to the incident.

The flight, which had departed at 12:39 p.m., was in Canadian airspace when the call was made. The pilot told passengers that the plane was experiencing mechanical problems, meaning that the flight would be rerouted back to Dulles.

The flight returned to Dulles five hours after its departure.

One passenger said that the pilot later admitted the truth, believing the lie about mechanical problems to be in the passengers’ best interest.

Liu later told authorities that she was taking her son out of the country to visit a sick grandmother.

However, FBI investigators later found that Liu had purchased the plane tickets before finding out about that relative’s illness.

Liu was arrested upon arriving again in Dulles and charged with attempted international kidnapping. The boy, meanwhile, was safely returned to his father.

Had the plane landed in Canada or China, the incident would have turned into a protracted international custody battle.

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