Police: Death of Utah rail worker may be tied to kidnapping

AMERICAN FORK, Utah (AP) — Daylight was fading over the wide-open Wyoming countryside as two officers took a last look for a missing Utah rail worker. That’s when they spotted a pair of boots.

Then they saw the jeans on Kay Porter Ricks’ body. The 63-year-old Mormon grandfather was found dead along a dirt road Tuesday, five days after he vanished during his shift in downtown Salt Lake City.

Now, the FBI and investigators in two states are trying to determine whether a father and son on the run from police in a bizarre Utah kidnapping case had anything to do with his death.

“There will be no stone unturned in this investigation,” said Fred Ross, police chief of the Utah Transit Authority, Ricks’ employer. “We will stay with this as long as it takes.”

Police have not definitively linked Flint Wayne Harrison, 51, and his son Dereck James “DJ” Harrison, 22, to Ricks’ death, which has been ruled a homicide. But investigators believe the two men were lying low with a friend close to where Ricks was working on the day he disappeared.

His body was found along the route the Harrisons likely took to their hideout in the Wyoming wilderness. Ricks’ missing truck could explain how they traveled nearly 250 miles from Utah, authorities said.

“There are some coincidences there that would be impossible to ignore as we continue to investigate,” Lincoln County Sheriff Shane Johnson told the Deseret News.

The Harrisons were arrested Saturday after a five-day search. The father surrendered and led police to the suspects’ remote campsite near Pinedale, Wyoming.

The two are accused of heavily using drugs and tying up a woman and her four teenage daughters in a basement on May 10 because they wrongly believed the mother had reported them to authorities. The family managed to break free and escape.

The Harrisons are set to be extradited to Utah to face 16 charges each, including kidnapping and drug possession. Authorities say they are not talking to police.

The Ricks family was mourning their loss rather than speculating on what happened, family spokesman Richard Massey said. Ricks had three grown sons and six grandchildren.

“As you can well imagine, it’s difficult explaining to them what has happened to their grandfather,” Massey said.

Ricks was a handyman who spent his free time helping neighbors fix their electric lights and ceiling fans. He lived by a regimented daily routine and would never have left work or gone to Wyoming on his own, Massey said.

Authorities still have not found Ricks’ truck but vowed to keep searching. It was last spotted on surveillance cameras in Wyoming, near where his body was found.


Associated Press writer Ben Neary in Cheyenne, Wyoming, contributed to this report.

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