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Press Release

Woman who allegedly assaulted toddler on flight from Mexico to Seattle charged and detained after passengers reported the assaults and tried to intervene

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington

Seattle – A 33-year-old resident of Sacramento, California was ordered detained today in U.S. District Court in Seattle on a misdemeanor charge of Assault in a special aircraft jurisdiction, announced U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. Breanna R. Mistler was arrested at Sea-Tac Airport when the Delta flight from Puerta Vallarta, Mexico arrived on May 1, 2024. Today, Magistrate Judge Brian Tsuchida ordered Mistler detained pending trial noting that the 2-year-old child victim was particularly vulnerable.

According to the criminal complaint, multiple passengers on the flight observed Mistler abuse the child. One reported that the child was in the window seat and Mistler in the aisle seat. The child woke-up Mistler, who then turned and allegedly kicked the child. At another point in the flight a witness reported Mistler allegedly shook the child “like a rag doll.” Despite interventions from passengers, Mistler allegedly persisted in the abuse.

Customs and Border Protection officers detained Mistler at the airport and noted bruises in multiple places on the toddler. The Port of Seattle Police and the FBI took over the investigation.

The child was cared for by a victim witness specialist. Child Protective Services (CPS) is involved with placing the child with a relative.

In ordering Mistler detained today at the Federal Detention Center at SeaTac, Judge Tsuchida said he was concerned about the safety of the child “because (Mistler) had committed the assaults in front of so many people on a lengthy plane trip.” The Judge said he had an independent duty to protect the victim.

The next hearing scheduled in the case is a preliminary examination scheduled for May 16, 2024.

The charges contained in the misdemeanor complaint are only allegations.  A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The case is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Carolyn Forstein. Assistant United States Attorney Mike Dion assisted with the detention hearing.


Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Communications Director Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or

Updated May 6, 2024

Violent Crime