McMechen man freed in Obama threat case

WHEELING – Ryan Kirker is a free man after new forensic evidence emerged showing he did not write letters threatening to kill President Barack Obama and his family.

U.S. District Court Chief Judge John Preston Bailey on Friday granted U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld’s motion to dismiss the charges against Kirker without prejudice – meaning they could be re-filed at a later date.

“My office filed a motion to dismiss after we determined there is not enough evidence to proceed against Mr. Kirker at this time,” Ihlenfeld said. “A U.S. Secret Service forensic handwriting analysis revealed that the defendant was not the author of the threatening letters.”

He said a second forensic handwriting analysis from a private laboratory obtained by Kirker’s attorneys, Don Yannerella and Quan Le, also confirmed that Kirker did not write the letters.

“The case remains open and the Secret Service will continue to investigate,” Ihlenfeld said.

Federal agents arrested Kirker, 21, of McMechen, in May after the White House received the letter in April. The letter, addressed to “President B. Obama,” included specific threats to the president, as well as his daughters and First Lady Michelle Obama.

Secret Service agents said at least one letter sent to the White House closed with the phrase, “KKK forever.”

In June, U.S. Magistrate James Seibert ordered that Kirker be detained without bond. He ruled that while he was not a flight risk, Kirker would be a threat to the community and the Obamas if free. Kirker’s attorneys had requested the judge permit him to be placed on monitored home confinement to spend time with his sick father. The motion was granted in October.

Kirker spent more than five months in the Northern Regional Jail in Moundsville, and was incarcerated when his father died.