Defense: FBI found no link between Instagram account, devices from LCHS threat suspect’s home
SPOKANE, Wash. — Investigators continue to search the electronic devices used by the teen accused of threatening to shoot up Lewis and Clark High School. However, the more investigators search, the less evidence they find to incriminate Ryan Lee.
Lee has been arrested a total of three times in a case involving cyber threats against students and LCHS. He was first arrested in June 2018 for allegedly posting threats toward several students at the high school under the Instagram handle steven_smith_4.
Police said threats were made from the same Instagram username in November 2018, but Lee was not charged in connection to those. At the time, police filed a search warrant to examine Lee’s tablet. Court documents state Instagram files were found on the device, but there was no evidence that Lee used the tablet to access the Instagram username that made the threats or the email associated with that username.
Lee was arrested again in January after a different Instagram username made threats that mirrored the ones police said Lee made in May. Police accused Lee of messaging a female student, threatening to shoot her family and sending her pornographic pictures and texts. Police traced an IP address back to Lee’s home and he was arrested again.
Lee’s bond was set at $1 million, but was later reduced to $100,000. His family paid the lower bond in cash and bailed him out. A judge ordered that the Lee family have no internet at their home and keep their cellphones locked with a code that Lee did not know.
In January, Lee’s attorney maintained that IP addresses do not establish a strong enough connection. Lee’s defense team filed a Knapstad motion asking the court to dismiss the charges against Lee on the grounds that the state did not provide enough evidence for a jury to convict a defendant. The motion stated that while IP addresses are a start, establishing location, they are not enough to prove that Lee himself sent the messages.
According to court records, the investigation has identified at least 42 IP addresses associated with the steven_smith_4 Instagram account. Court records state, of those 42 IP addresses, 10 were associated with the Lee family home’s Comcast account, while a majority were third party or false IP addresses from virtual private networks.
Additionally, forensic examinations have been performed on Lee’s iPhone and Tablet, as well as 11 other devices from the Lee family home, according to court records. Documents state these exams have been performed by the State, FBI and Defense experts and have established that there is no evidence of any messages or posts from the steven_smith_4 Instgram account being sent or received on any of the devices seized from Lee.
Lee was arrested a third time in March. Police said he posted on Instagram under an account with his name on it; which was a violation of the order issued by the court.
According to court records, Lee’s has been locked out of his personal account since June 2018, but there has been activity on the account since then. Court records also show there was activity on Lee’s personal account at times where he did not have access to the Internet.
Police said Lee denied having an Instagram account in an initial interview. However, according to court records, Lee later admitted to creating the account and sending messages to teenage girls.
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