SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The family of a Utah rail line worker who authorities say was abducted and killed on the job is investigating whether a swift response to a final harried radio call could have saved him, their lawyer and family spokesman said.
Authorities say the minute-long call was made from Kay Ricks' work radio around the time police believe he was snatched by a father and son on the run from police after tying up five people in a Utah basement.
It sounded like someone was trying to contact Ricks' dispatch center in a high-pitched, stressed voice, but the transmission suddenly cut off, court documents state.
The response to the final call revealed in charges filed Tuesday isn't clear, but there's no indication it immediately set off alarm bells at the Utah Transit Authority. Dispatchers tried to call Ricks again an hour later on a routine call, charges say.
He didn't answer, something his colleagues and family have said was out of character for the routine-loving, 63-year-old family man and dependable worker. By then, police believe he was a captive in his own truck and nearing the Wyoming border. Ricks was beaten to death about 7:30 p.m. on May 12, just over two hours after he was taken.
UTA reported him missing around midnight.
"We are going to investigate absolutely every angle of this to determine whether there may have been negligence on anyone's part that either led to or may have prevented Kay's death," said Richard Massey, a spokesman and lawyer for the Ricks family. "We may find everything was done just fine, but that's our job. They've retained us to find that out."
Asked about the radio call and the agency's response, UTA released a statement from police chief Fred Ross on Wednesday saying the investigation is ongoing. The agency did not provide further details.
Ricks' body was found after a five-day search, hidden under sagebrush in the Wyoming countryside. His throat was slashed and he'd been beaten beyond recognition by Flint and Dereck Harrison, according to prosecutors who filed murder and kidnapping charges. The father and son killed him halfway between Salt Lake City and the remote Wyoming hideout that was their last stop before they were arrested May 14, authorities allege.
The father and son went on the lam after luring a woman and her four teenage daughters to a house with a barbecue invitation, then tying them up and beating them with a baseball bat outside of Salt Lake City, police have said. The women managed to escape, but the men got away. They'd been lying low for two days when they encountered Ricks at a nearby downtown train substation, authorities said.
The Harrisons were caught after Flint Harrison, 51, turned himself him on May 14. Dereck Harrison, 22, was spotted hours alter near a roadblock set up to catch him.
They are being held on separate kidnapping and other charges in Utah, and it unclear when they will be brought to Wyoming to face charges there. Utah lawyers for the two men said they could not comment on the Wyoming case.