Judge Allows ‘Serial Stowaway’ Marilyn Hartman to Leave Mental Health Facility

Cook County Court Judge William Raines agreed to relax restrictions on Marilyn Hartman’s confinement, allowing her to transfer to a new facility where she can come and go as she pleases

NBC 5's Phil Rogers

So-called “serial stowaway” Marilyn Hartman has been granted her freedom, at least more than she had.

During a hearing in Cook County Court Thursday, Judge William Raines agreed to relax restrictions on Hartman’s confinement, allowing her transfer from the locked mental health facility where she now resides to one of two other facilities where she would be allowed to come and go as she pleases.

Hartman will still be restricted from entering either of Chicago’s airports, and for now, will be required to continue wearing an electronic ankle bracelet which would set off alarms if she broke those rules.

During the hearing officials complained to Raines that Hartman had not been a model resident at the Sacred Heart home where she is now housed, saying she had displayed “aggressive behavior” which had forced at least two hospitalizations. What’s more, they said, Hartman had refused efforts to place her in an area of Sacred Heart which would have given her greater freedom.

“Sacred Heart is a secure facility,” the organization’s Christina Brooks told the judge. “We tried to move her and she’s not willing to do that.”

During a conversation with NBC 5 during a court recess, Hartman denied allegations that she had been disruptive.

“They filed a false report,” she said. “I never, ever, in my life have been in any physical violence.”

Indeed, despite the protests that she had not been cooperative, Raines told everyone assembled it was still his intention to get Hartman to a place where she could begin a migration back into the community.

“We wanted to make sure she was on board,” he said of Hartman’s new life outside Cook County Jail. “I want to be able to transition her to get out of Sacred Heart and live on her own.”

To drive home the point, Raines told both sides, “We’re doing this in little steps.”

After a break, all agreed Hartman would be moved to another Sacred Heart facility, which would allow come-and-go privileges. But the judge reminded her that the so-called “exclusionary zones” would remain in effect, barring her presence at O’Hare and Midway, Amtrak facilities or the Greyhound bus station.

“This is not easy for anybody,” Raines warned Hartman. “We’re bending over backwards.”

In the meantime, Hartman said she hopes to use her newfound freedom to make frequent use of a nearby library, or perhaps take computer training courses at Truman College.

“I prefer never to see you again,” Raines told Hartman. “But I want to make it as easy as possible to make this transition. You are going to go to a new place. In this setting, people are trying to help you.”

Lest anyone forget the repeated airport incidents which brought Hartman into the system in the first place, the judge reminded her that O’Hare and Midway personnel know who she is, and that she faces up to a year in jail if she is caught at either airport.

“I’m not trying to be your dad,” he said. “I’m doing everything in my power to keep you out of jail.”

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