Ray Boughner Jr. III (Zachariah Bryan / The Herald)

Ray Boughner Jr. III (Zachariah Bryan / The Herald)

Charges: Man used app to send sexual messages, rape threats

Ray Boughner, Jr. III reportedly hid his identity and harassed over 20 women.

LYNNWOOD — The girl was 12 when she started receiving a series of lewd and threatening texts and calls.

They came from multiple phone numbers, but followed the same themes. They asked her for sex in exchange for money. They threatened rape and kidnapping. The man on the other end apparently knew where she went to school. He said he could tell what she was wearing and where she lived.

Sometimes, she would get more than 20 texts in a day and her phone wouldn’t stop ringing until she picked up. When she did, she heard heavy breathing. The caller demanded sex.

The messages persisted throughout middle and high school. The girl said she missed a lot of classes, as well as an important test, because of the stress. She feared for her safety and made sure she was never alone.

The girl wasn’t the only one targeted. Lynnwood police believe Ray Boughner Jr. III could have sent similar messages to more than 20 women, many of whom were underage at the time. The harassment dates back to as early as 2013.

The number of allegations kept growing as police learned of more and more victims.

“These cases are like pulling on a loose string,” said Lynnwood detective Bill Koonce, who led the investigation.

Boughner, 21, of Mountlake Terrace, was charged in Snohomish County Superior Court earlier this month with three counts of cyberstalking and two counts of communication with a minor for immoral purposes.

A judge also granted nearly a dozen civil protection orders against him.

Prosecutors say Boughner used an application called TextPlus, now NextPlus, to obscure his identity. The application advertises itself as a service that lets people talk and text for free in the United States and Canada.

It assigns random phone numbers with an area code of the user’s choosing. At any time, users can switch to another random number. The company did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

At one point, Boughner reportedly told one of his victims that he couldn’t be traced because his number “changes every hour.”

Most of the victims fit a similar profile, Koonce said.

Most attended Mountlake Terrace High School and graduated in the class of 2015, the same year as Boughner. They were typically confident and popular — qualities Boughner felt he didn’t possess.

Not responding to the messages only seemed to make them worse and more insistent. Blocking the phone number wouldn’t work, either, as Boughner would quickly switch to another, prosecutors allege.

When one girl changed her number, Boughner reportedly contacted her grandmother and a family friend. Another girl also got a new number, but the messages started up again two years later.

Boughner apparently figured out where some of the young women lived or worked. He sent one her home address, demanding that either she reply “or someone gets hurt,” documents say.

In one series of threats, court papers say, Boughner counted down the days to Halloween, saying that’s when the woman would be “raped mercilessly.”

Detective Koonce picked up the case in November. He found that all of the phone numbers used to contact the victims were managed by TextPlus. The app posed challenges to gathering information.

Unlike normal phone service, TextPlus didn’t ping cellphone towers, so police couldn’t track where the calls were coming from. When Koonce obtained a search warrant to look at company records, he found no data that would lead him to a suspect. He only discovered that the user had a Samsung Galaxy S9.

“I was running into brick wall after brick wall trying to do my cool computer technology, forensic-type stuff,” Koonce said.

So he got up from his computer and went to Mountlake Terrace High School. There, administrators pulled a report from 2013 involving a student. Boughner had sent a staff member emails that were sexual in nature.

Around the same time, Boughner had been arrested by the Edmonds and Mountlake Terrace police departments for investigation of cyberstalking.

That case involved similar content, though the related juvenile records appear to have been sealed.

Koonce checked the phone number listed for Boughner with T-Mobile. The company confirmed that he had a Samsung Galaxy S9. Records showed Boughner would use Text-Plus several times a day. Calls and texts made through the app were not tracked by the carrier.

On Dec. 21, Koonce caught another break. One of the victims he interviewed had encountered Boughner in 2017 and wanted to come forward about what had happened back then.

The woman and her roommate decided to meet the harasser in person at Mountlake Terrace High School. She intended to get his license plate number. When a man wearing a hoodie showed up on foot, the two women became uncomfortable and drove away.

Someone called the woman afterward, asking where they were going. The woman said he sounded sad, “like he was almost crying.”

Shortly after, she received a message from an account named Ray Boughner on Facebook: “What did I do? All I wanted was a second chance.”

Then he sent her a photo of a dog, according to prosecutors.

“I got her for you,” he wrote. “She will stay at my place til (sic) you and me ya know have sex.”

Koonce said it was the first time Boughner communicated with the victims using something tied to his name. The woman said it might’ve been a mistake, because he quickly stopped using his Facebook to communicate with her.

Lynnwood police arrested Boughner on Jan. 18. In an interview with police, he reportedly said he wanted to scare the women and “make them feel my pain.” He told detectives that he knew what he did was wrong, according to documents. He said his actions were the result of childhood abuse and depression.

One girl, who began receiving messages when she was 13, told detectives that she continues to be affected.

For years, she was afraid of dating, she said, because she was afraid she would accidentally go out with her harasser.

In public places, she is still fearful she’ll be kidnapped or raped.

A court appearance is scheduled in April. Boughner was in the Snohomish County Jail on Tuesday, with bail set at $100,000.

Zachariah Bryan: 425-339-3431; zbryan@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @zachariahtb.

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