Twins who disrupted flight head back to Michigan

Posted: Monday, June 04, 2001

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- Twin sisters who disrupted a plane headed for Shanghai six weeks ago boarded another airliner Sunday night to return home to rural Buckley, Mich.

Aspiring models Cynthia and Crystal Mikula, both 22, had been in federal custody since April 19, when a United Airlines pilot turned his 747 around and landed in Anchorage so they could be taken into custody.

The remaining 231 passengers spent the night in Anchorage hotels at United's expense. They were offered tours the next day before the flight resumed about 24 hours later. Costs to the airline were estimated at more than $100,000.

Prosecutors say the incident began when the Mikulas ordered several drinks and started quarreling with each other. They attacked and spit on members of the flight crew who tried to calm them, according to authorities.

Cynthia and Crystal Mikula were on their way to a modeling competition in China when the incident occurred.

The women were indicted last month on charges of interfering with the crew. If convicted, they face up to 20 years in federal prison.

It was not their first brush with the law. The Detroit Free Press reported that the Mikula sisters have been in trouble for shoplifting, traffic violations and underage possession of alcohol.

U.S. Magistrate John Roberts required both of the Mikulas' parents to come to Alaska to ferry them home, and set a long list of conditions for their release on bail, including no alcohol or firearms in the house. The parents are required to stay within ''sight or sound'' of the twins 24 hours a day.

The sisters were preboarded onto the Continental flight Sunday evening by an officer, and the crew was warned that the women were on board.

The Mikulas are set for trials next month in Alaska on the charges. They'll have another long flight then unless a plea deal is reached.

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