Utah man flying from NYC arrested for allegedly holding razor blade to woman's throat mid-JetBlue flight

Merrill Darrell Fackrell charged over midflight attack on flight to Salt Lake City

A Utah man returning home on a JetBlue flight from New York City was arrested and charged with carrying a straight edge razor blade onto the plane and holding it to a woman’s throat mid-journey. 

Merrill Darrell Fackrell, 41, of Syracuse, Utah, has been charged with carrying a weapon on an aircraft and assault with a dangerous weapon in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States.

According to the federal criminal complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Utah, Fackrell departed on JetBlue Flight #871 from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York en route to Salt Lake City International Airport in Utah on Nov. 21. Fackrell was seated in a window seat next to married passengers. 

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During the flight, Fackrell placed his hand in front of the woman’s screen and told her to pause her movie. The woman took off her headphones and realized Fackrell had his hand clutched with what appeared to her as a knife, inches from her skin at her throat and neck area, the complaint says.

Police board a JetBlue plane after landing at Salt Lake City International Airport to arrest a man accused of holding a blade to a woman's throat midflight. 

Police board a JetBlue plane after landing at Salt Lake City International Airport to arrest a man accused of holding a blade to a woman's throat midflight.  (Abraham Niederhauser via Storyful)

The woman’s husband went to the front of the aircraft to get assistance from the flight attendant. The woman lunged for the aisle to escape and Fackrell reached and tried to stop her by grabbing her shoulder. 

The object was secured and later identified as a Facon wood-handled straight edge razor with a one-to-two-inch blade, according to federal prosecutors. 

Cell phone video recorded by passenger Abraham Niederhauser shows law enforcement walking through the plane. 

This file photo shows a JetBlue Airways Airbus A320 airplane at Cartagena airport.

This file photo shows a JetBlue Airways Airbus A320 airplane at Cartagena airport. (iStock)

Niederhauser told Storyful that he was two seats behind the suspect and noticed he had something in his hand when he stood up. Niederhauser added that the situation occurred in the middle of the flight and that law enforcement were waiting for the Fackrell once the plane landed. 

This file photo shows JetBlue land operations and boarding in Owen Roberts Intl. Airport in Grand Cayman Island. 

This file photo shows JetBlue land operations and boarding in Owen Roberts Intl. Airport in Grand Cayman Island.  (iStock)

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The incident occurred days before Thanksgiving during the busy holiday travel period.