EVERETT — A Mountlake Terrace man has pleaded guilty to using randomized phone numbers to stalk and sexually harass women.
Lynnwood police say Ray Boughner Jr. III used an application called TextPlus to obscure his identity and send a barrage of rape threats to more than 20 women, many of whom were minors, for at least five years. 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.
On Nov. 19, Boughner pleaded guilty in Snohomish County Superior Court to three counts of cyberstalking and two counts of communication with a minor for immoral purposes. In a signed statement that was part of his plea agreement, Boughner admitted to targeting 13 women, “using lewd, lascivious, indecent and obscene language, anonymously and repeatedly and threatening to inflict injury on them or their family with intent to harass, intimidate, torment and embarrass them.”
Prosecutors are suggesting Boughner be sentenced to nine months in jail, on the low end of state guidelines. Under the prosecutor’s recommendation, he would be on parole for three years, could not have contact with minors and would need to complete a sexual deviancy treatment program. Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 19.
The harassment began as early as 2013, with many victims fitting a similar profile, Lynnwood detective Bill Koonce said in an interview earlier this year after Boughner’s arrest. 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.
The young women reported receiving a series of lewd texts, demanding sex and threatening rape. The sender would include details of where they lived and worked, and sometimes extended the threats to their families and friends.
Not responding to the messages only seemed to make them worse. Blocking the phone number wouldn’t work, either, as Boughner would quickly switch to another, prosecutors alleged.
Due to the nature of the app, Koonce said he encountered “brick wall after brick wall” when trying to identify a suspect. Eventually, the detective went to Mountlake Terrace High School, where administrators pulled a report from 2013 involving Boughner, a student at the time. The report described how Boughner sent a staff member emails that were sexual in nature.
Around the same time, Boughner was arrested by the Edmonds and Mountlake Terrace police departments for investigation of cyberstalking. That case involved similar conduct, Koonce said, 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 Boughner used TextPlus several times a day. But calls and texts made through the app were not tracked by the carrier.
A woman reported she once received a Facebook message from Boughner. It was the only time he communicated with victims using something tied to his name, Koonce said.
Shortly after, Koonce established probable cause to make an arrest. Boughner was booked into the Snohomish County Jail on Jan. 25.
After The Daily Herald published an article describing the allegations against Boughner in February, police identified two more victims. Both women said they had been subjected to Boughner’s messages during the summer of 2018.
Koonce identified one of the women after serving a search warrant on Boughner’s TextPlus account. The woman, 24, previously reported to Seattle police that she received text messages threatening rape, and a voicemail in which she could hear the sound of a gun cocking and firing. After reading the story in The Herald, she said she knew it was Boughner.
A sheriff’s office detective had been investigating a similar case of harassment involving a 23-year-old woman. After reading the article, he contacted Koonce, who found the woman’s name in records from Boughner’s TextPlus account.
Boughner admitted to new charges involving those women, in his plea agreement this month.
He has remained at the Snohomish County Jail since his arrest in January, with bail set at $100,000.