Father, son accused in Utah kidnapping will stay behind bars

AP News
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Posted: May 23, 2016 7:55 PM
Father, son accused in Utah kidnapping will stay behind bars

FARMINGTON, Utah (AP) — A father and son accused of tying up five members of a Utah family will remain jailed without bail as authorities investigate if they were involved with the death of a rail-line worker whose body was found along their likely escape route to Wyoming.

In the first Utah court appearance for Flint Wayne Harrison, 51, and Dereck James "DJ" Harrison, 22, an attorney for the father acknowledged that her client is a person of interest in the death of Kay Ricks. But lawyer Susanne Gustin said she doesn't know what evidence police have or if Flint Harrison or his son will be charged in that case.

"Obviously it's a very difficult situation for him, but it's hard to talk about that when the Rickses have lost somebody," Gustin said, declining to elaborate on what her client has said about the allegations.

Flint Harrison winked at somebody in the front row of the courtroom as he walked in, looking calm during his short appearance.

The younger Harrison, sporting a thick beard and wearing a red jail jumpsuit, looked more stoic and worried. He requested more time to find a private attorney. His grandmother, Marlene Brown, attended the hearing, but she declined to comment outside court.

Police are investigating the death of Ricks, 63, as a homicide. While they have not directly linked the two cases, authorities say the coincidences are too strong to ignore.

In Wyoming, Lincoln County Attorney Spencer Allred said Monday that they are in the midst of a thorough and detailed investigation. Allred said he expects charges to be filed at some point, but he didn't elaborate.

The family of Kay Ricks did not attend the hearing, and doesn't plan on going to future hearings, family spokesman Richard Massey said.

He said Ricks' body returned to Utah Friday morning, but the family doesn't yet know how he died. The funeral will be closed casket, he said.

The Harrisons have been charged with kidnapping and other crimes alleging they invited a woman and her four teenage daughters over for a barbecue May 10 and held them captive in the basement of a house in Centerville, outside Salt Lake City.

Prosecutors say the Harrisons were using drugs and wrongly believed the mother had reported them to authorities. The family managed to break free and escape.

The Harrisons fled and were hiding out in the Salt Lake City area when Ricks disappeared during his light-rail maintenance shift May 12, police say.

The body of the Mormon grandfather was found five days later and 130 miles away, along the route the men likely took to a hideout in remote Wyoming, police say. Ricks' Utah Transit Authority truck was discovered near their makeshift campsite.

The Harrisons were arrested May 14 near Pinedale, Wyoming, after a five-day manhunt. Flint Harrison turned himself in to police, and his son was spotted near a roadblock later that night.

They were sent back to Utah to face charges in the kidnapping. Wyoming police say that having the Harrisons jailed there will give them time to fully investigate Ricks' death.

An evidentiary hearing for Flint Harrison was scheduled for Aug. 9. His son will be back in court next week when he hopes to have a private attorney.

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Associated Press writers Ben Neary in Cheyenne and Lindsay Whitehurst in Salt Lake City contributed to this report.