A 47-year-old Newcastle man faces one count of communication with a minor for immoral purposes after the Snoqualmie Police Department (SPD) responded to a call concerning explicit messages found on an iPad between an unknown number and someone’s 14-year-old son.
“The conversation between the defendant and victim makes clear, at multiple junctures, the defendant was fully aware he was speaking to a child when discussing arrangements for the pair to meet up for sexual intercourse,” said Leesa Manion, Prosecuting Attorney for King County. “Fortunately, the quick work of the investigating agency saved this child from the more serious completed offenses of rape of a child.”
The defendant, Hoven Yen Lui, attended his arraignment at 8:30 a.m. Dec. 28 at the King County Courthouse. According to court documents, Lui has since made the $250,000 bail and is no longer in custody at the King County Jail.
The trial date is set for 9 a.m. March 27, according to the documents filed Dec. 28 by the King County Superior Court Clerk.
Snoqualmie police initially learned about the exchange of explicit messages between Lui and the minor when an officer received a call reporting suspicious circumstances on Dec. 14.
The mother and father of the Mount Si High School student called the police when they discovered messages on their son’s iPad — linked to his phone — between him and an unknown number.
According to the charging documents, the messages dated from Dec. 12 to Dec. 14 — the day the messages were discovered.
Using the phone number, the police conducted a public record search and used Zetz.com, an online resource commonly used by law enforcement. The search confirmed that the individual in question was likely a male named Hoven Yen Lui residing in the Newcastle area.
Along with various explicit text messages between the boy and Lui, the texts indicated the two had arranged to meet on the morning of Dec. 16 with the intention of engaging in sexual intercourse.
Possessing information regarding the scheduled meeting, the SPD initially sought to track Lui’s phone in real-time through a cellphone ping and prepared search warrants.
However, before tracking the cellphone signal, police began to suspect Lui was not located in Washington due to a certain exchange of text messages and photos between the boy and Lui.
According to police, the photos Lui recently sent showed vegetation and weather aligning closely to Arizona’s environment, along with text messages regarding “Teeing off.” Police explained in the charging documents that Arizona is known for its many golf courses.
While awaiting the search warrant and working with the King County Special Operations Division, the Port of Seattle Police Department (POSPD) contacted the Snoqualmie Police Department with information that Lui had purchased an airline ticket to Tucson, Arizona, on Dec. 11, with a return flight to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport scheduled for Dec. 15.
Snoqualmie police adjusted their strategy and decided to apprehend Lui at the terminal.
Once Lui disembarked the plane, police approached him and confirmed his identity. Lui was then searched, and his iPhone was seized. Police noted the phone number matched the unknown number on the iPad.
During the interview process, Lui disclosed that he had initially encountered the high school boy in an online chatroom. Their communication then shifted to a platform called Snapchat and later progressed to text messaging.
Lui admitted he knew the boy was a freshman in high school and was dealing with stress from school and life. He then stated he had no intentions of following through with any sexual activities, chalking it up to “role-playing” and “playing along” with the boy, according to the police.
Warrants for Lui’s cell phone and laptop have since been reviewed and approved by King County Superior Judge Suzanne Parisen. However, documents and data are pending as of press time.
Manion explained in the charging document that Lui had no prior criminal convictions. However, the extent to which Lui communicated with the boy gives the state extreme concern he may commit future acts of sexual violence.