Riley June Williams, a woman who federal law enforcement believe stole a laptop from Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office during the January 6 insurrection in Washington D.C., turned herself in on Monday. Although the missing laptop was considered fairly non-essential, Drew Hammill, Pelosi's deputy chief of staff, wrote in a tweet on January 8: “A laptop from the conference room was stolen,” Hammill wrote responding to a tweet from an editor at Reuters. “It was a laptop that was only used for presentations.” In the week since, many have wondered who was the person behind this ill-fated heist.
Then, after a former partner of Williams' spotted her in the news, he called the FBI tip line to identify her from video recordings of the siege. In at least one video, Williams is seen taking “a laptop computer or hard drive” from Pelosi’s office, according to a complaint filed by the Justice Department on Sunday. According to Williams’ ex, she intended to sell the laptop to a friend in Russia who planned to sell it to SVR, the country’s foreign intelligence service. This sale reportedly fell through. He also identified Williams in a video where she can be seen directing crowds up a staircase inside the Capitol building yelling, “Upstairs, upstairs, upstairs.”
Meanwhile, as people began an effort to identify insurrectionists using the power of the internet, some wondered who Williams was. While all of these conspiracy theories are unproven, countless armchair investigators had fun speculating. One openly wondered about whether Williams could have been one of the people allegedly given tours of the Capitol in the days leading up to the insurrection. Another braced themselves for photos of Williams meeting well-known conservatives such as Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Josh Hawley, or the soon-to-be-former president himself.
Others were a bit more far-fetched, theorizing that we’d all seen Williams years before in a viral gif. Finally, one said perhaps the most easily proven outcome of them all: Williams is going to have a very bad 2021.
In reality, not much is known about Williams. The 22-year-old is reportedly from Harrisburg, PA where she lives with her mother. According to The New York Times, Williams drove to Washington D.C. that day with her father but they split up during the day. There have been no reports that her father was connected to the attack on the Capitol.
Despite reportedly changing her phone number and deleting her social media accounts, Williams was arrested in the Middle District of Pennsylvania on Monday, according to the DOJ, after fleeing following the attack. She’s been accused of unlawful entry, disrupting the conduct of government business, and disorderly conduct.
Currently, the Justice Depart has more than 275 open investigations related to the Capitol riot. Federal prosecutors say they’re focusing their efforts on the most serious crimes including assaults on law enforcement and significant felony charges, reports NPR. Prosecutors have already filed criminal charges against 100 people so far.