Travis “T.J.” Mullis, 21, was arrested Friday after surrendering to Philadelphia police and allegedly confessing to stomping his infant son to death in Galveston.
Police in Galveston, where the baby’s body was found along a roadside last week, traveled to Philadelphia to return Mullis for his first scheduled court appearance on Wednesday.
But Southwest Airlines declined to allow Mullis and his police escort on the flight despite earlier assurances that he would be permitted to board, Galveston police Lt. Jorge Trevino said in a story posted Tuesday on the Houston Chronicle Web site.
The airline, which disputed the police account of events, then helped arrange a Continental Airlines flight for Mullis. He arrived at Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport on Tuesday night.
Trevino said Southwest Airlines had told a Galveston officer who called to arrange the flight that Mullis would be allowed to board as long as he was not handcuffed, which would be a violation of Southwest policy.
Upon arrival at the boarding area, airport security said Mullis would not be allowed on the flight after learning that he was prisoner charged with capital murder, Trevino said.
A Galveston officer then phoned Southwest officials and was again given permission to take Mullis on the flight so long as he was not handcuffed, and security was notified, Trevino told the Chronicle.
But the decision was reversed again before Mullis could board, Trevino said.
Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz said Galveston police never checked with airline officials before attempting to board the aircraft.
He said prisoners being transported aboard an airline must have their hands restrained, but Southwest Airlines does not allow prisoners to be handcuffed by law enforcement officials on its aircraft.