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Missing Pennsylvania woman accused of taking laptop from Pelosi’s office during Capitol riot, FBI says

  • Author: Spencer S. Hsu, Hannah Knowles, The Washington Post
  • Updated: January 18
  • Published January 18

WASHINGTON - Authorities are searching for an alleged Capitol rioter who, according to a “former romantic partner,” may have stolen a laptop or hard drive from the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the FBI says.

The issue “remains under investigation,” according to a criminal complaint filed Sunday against Riley June Williams, the Pennsylvania woman named in the potential theft and charged in the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. An ex-partner of Williams’ called the FBI to identify her in video footage and relay the laptop allegation, an agent wrote in the complaint.

The ex-partner, identified only as W1 in court filings, told the FBI that friends of Williams played a video of her stealing the drive or computer from Pelosi’s office, and that Williams “intended to send the computer device to a friend in Russia, who then planned to sell the device to SVR, Russia’s foreign intelligence service,” the complaint states. According to the witness, however, the plan fell through for unknown reasons, and Williams still has or has destroyed the device, the FBI said.

Williams was charged Sunday with trespassing and disorderly conduct in the Capitol after her mother told police in Harrisburg, Pa., that Williams packed a bag and fled without disclosing her destination, according to the FBI. She has not been charged with theft.

Williams can be seen in a ITV News video posted to YouTube, taken from inside the Capitol, wearing a green T-shirt and brown trench coat with a zebra-print bag, directing rioters up a staircase toward Pelosi’s office, the FBI said.

The woman in the green shirt can be seen pushing people forward amid a crowd toting flags and wearing “Make America Great Again” hats.

“Up the stairs! Up the stairs!” she yells. “Go! Go!”

Other video and photographs capture Williams entering or inside the Capitol, according to law enforcement.

The affidavit filed in court does not mention a video or photos reviewed by law enforcement that show someone taking a computer or hard drive from Pelosi’s office. Drew Hammill, deputy chief of staff for Pelosi, said Jan. 8 that a laptop “only used for presentations” was taken from a conference room.

Hammill did not immediately respond to questions Monday.

The FBI agent said police in Harrisburg confirmed with Williams’ father, of Camp Hill, Pa., that the pair drove to Washington for the Jan. 6 demonstration and then back home, but did not stay together during the event.

On Jan. 11, law enforcement in Harrisburg also went to the home Williams shares with her mother after receiving the mother’s “suspicious persons report.” The affidavit says without providing further explanation that, per Williams’ mother, “the suspicious person was assumed to be W1.”

With officers observing, the mother video-called Williams, who could be seen wearing a brown jacket consistent with images from the Capitol, the FBI says.

Within days, British media arrived at the home looking for Williams and spoke with the mother, according to court documents. ITV News says its reporter spoke with the mother, in an interview captured on video.

“That’s her, that’s my daughter,” a woman says through a barely cracked door, later saying that Williams is 22.

“I’m very unhappy,” she says. “I’m sad that that happened to her, that she was actually inside. That’s what the video shows, you know.”

She says her daughter “took off” before police or the FBI contacted her, according to ITV News. The mother told the news outlet that Williams went to rallies and had grown suddenly interested in Trump’s politics and “far right message boards,” in statements also cited by the FBI.

The Washington Post could not reach the mother.

Since the riot, Williams has changed her phone number, the FBI said, and deleted her social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Telegram and Parler.