United States

DC Teacher Says She Was Jailed in Aruba After False Accusation

A teacher in Washington, D.C. says she and her girlfriend were detained in Aruba for more than 24 hours after someone found a note in an airplane bathroom that read "bomb."

"I was petrified. This is the most horrific thing that has ever happened to me in my life," the teacher, Jennifer Jones, said.

"We were locked up abroad," she said. "And I watch that on TV. We were really locked up abroad. And nobody knew where we were. Nobody heard from us."

Jones and her girlfriend, Derna Dickson, were headed on vacation when someone scrawled an apparent bomb threat on an air sickness bag and left it on a Southwest Airlines plane on July 27.

The pilots in command of Flight 1630 from Orlando to Aruba declared an emergency shortly before landing, with a "potential security threat," the airline said.

Jones and Dickson were among the passengers who were corralled onto a shuttle bus surrounded by Transportation Security Administration officers and Aruba police, cellphone video Jones took shows.

Then, "apparently someone pointed me out, saying I was the last one to use the restroom," Jones said.


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Jones and Dickson were hauled off from questioning and then thrown into separate jails.

"It was just dismal. I literally slept on a concrete slab," Dickson said. "I relied mostly on faith. I just kept praying the entire time and just saying to myself, 'This is going to be over any minute.'"

They were appointed a lawyer in Aruba but not allowed to call their families or the United States embassy, they said. They were described in local media as criminal suspects, and their photos were published. 

After 26 hours of detention, they were released without being charged.

News4 attempted to reach Aruban authorities for comment, but they were not available.

Southwest Airlines confirmed the incident and said local law enforcement took over the investigation.

"We cooperated with local authorities’ investigation and cannot comment further," a company spokesman said.

On Friday, the couple looked over legal documents they can't read; they were written in Dutch. The couple said there was a major language barrier throughout their ordeal.

"None of it made sense," Dickson said.

"I will never go back to Aruba again," said Jones, who has been four times. "And I love Aruba. It's a beautiful place. The people are beautiful. But the way that their law is, it's not right."

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