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Moses Lake man arrested in child porn investigation

by JOEL MARTIN
Staff Writer | March 27, 2024 4:05 PM

EDITOR’S NOTE: The story below contains information that readers are likely to find disturbing. While we encourage readers to be informed, some may wish to sop reading after the portion indicating the suspect’s status as of Wednesday afternoon. If you or someone you know is experiencing sexual abuse, help is available. In Grant and Adams counties, call New Hope at 888-560-6027. You can also access their services by contacting law enforcement.

MOSES LAKE — A Moses Lake man was arrested Tuesday on child pornography charges, according to a statement from the Grant County Sheriff’s Office.

Michael Boyer, 68, was taken into custody following a search of his home in the 4200 block of Airway Drive Northeast, according to the statement. He faces charges on 15 counts of possession of depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Boyer faces 13 counts of second- and two counts of first-degree possession of depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct, according to the GCSO statement. Additional charges are expected as more evidence is discovered.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Boyar was listed as being held in maximum security at the Grant County Jail.

GCSO detectives and the Moses Lake Police Department began looking into Boyer after receiving a case referral from the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force in Seattle in September 2023, according to the statement. The tip came from Google and identified the suspect as Boyer, along with his birthdate, phone number and two email addresses.

The tip was sent to GCSO and MLPD detectives, according to the statement of probable cause for Boyer’s arrest. The tip listed several internet protocol, or IP, addresses used by Boyer, one of which was registered to Boyer’s wife, who lives at the same address. The property is owned by Boyer and his wife, according to county records, but they occupy a renovated shop behind the main residence, which is occupied by Boyer’s adult stepdaughter. Neither the wife nor the stepdaughter was named as a suspect in either the GCSO statement or court documents. 

Through a series of search warrants, detectives found that someone using an IP address connected to Boyer had uploaded 108 video files to the Internet, 11 of which had been reviewed as of Wednesday and found to contain child sexual abuse material, according to the GCSO statement.

On Tuesday, a search warrant was executed by GCSO detectives, Homeland Security investigators and a Seattle Police Department electronic security detection K-9, according to case documents.

While seizing evidence from Boyer’s home, detectives discovered a cell phone with the instant messaging app Telegram installed, according to the GCSO statement. A Telegram conversation between the screen name “Harley Boyer,” identified as Michael Boyer, and someone using the screen name “scooter” involved the exchange of 16 files, both photo and video, of child sexual abuse material. 

All electronic devices on the premises were seized for full extraction by Homeland Security forensics, according to the probable cause statement. 

Investigators discovered a “go bag” inside Boyer’s residence, according to case documents, containing child-size nylon restraints and a pulse oximeter, a device that measures a person’s blood oxygen levels and pulse.

Much of the seized child sexual abuse material that has been reviewed contains depictions of children who have been identified during previous Internet child sexual abuse investigations, GCSO indicated. That means the material may have come from anywhere and that it has been shared over the Internet for some time. There is no current indication that any of the imagery contains local children. Detectives will continue to review evidence and try to identify the children seen in the images and videos.

Along with the GCSO and MLPD, investigators from Homeland Security, the Washington State Patrol and the Seattle Police Department were at Boyer’s home securing the scene and gathering evidence. Electronic evidence will undergo analysis to help determine its origin and possibly help find the children recorded in the child sexual abuse material.

Anyone with information about Michael Boyer is asked to call the Grant County Sheriff’s Office through MACC Dispatch at 509-762-1160 or crimetips@grantcountywa.gov. Tipsters can choose to remain anonymous.