SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah train maintenance worker who disappeared during a manhunt for a father and son accused of a bizarre kidnapping was found dead along a route that the suspects likely took to get to their hideout in the Wyoming wilderness, authorities said Wednesday.
Kay Porter Ricks, 63, vanished during his night shift last week, a few miles from a house where investigators believe the father and son had been lying low before heading to Wyoming. A sheriff’s deputy found Ricks’ body Tuesday night as he searched for the Utah Transit Authority truck that Ricks had been driving, said Richard Massey, a spokesman for the worker’s family.
Police are investigating how Ricks died, and whether Flint Wayne Harrison, 51, and Dereck James “DJ” Harrison, 22, were involved. While police have not definitively linked them to Ricks’ death, the coincidences are difficult to ignore, Lincoln County Attorney Spencer Allred said.
The missing truck could also explain how they traveled nearly 250 miles from Utah to Wyoming.
Surveillance cameras captured images of Ricks’ truck in Wyoming, Massey said. His body was discovered in western Wyoming’s Lincoln County, which borders the area where the suspects built a makeshift campsite.
The Harrisons were arrested this past weekend after a five-day search, the break coming when the father surrendered and led police to the remote camp near Pinedale, Wyoming.
The two are accused of using drugs and tying up a woman and her four teenage daughters in a basement near Salt Lake City on May 10 because they wrongly thought the mother had reported them to authorities. The family was able to break free and escape.
In Wyoming, crews plan to use sonar to search for Ricks’ truck in a lake near the suspects’ hideout.
Ricks went missing Thursday during his shift maintaining light-rail tracks in Salt Lake City. His cellphone was found near a station across town that night.
Ricks was a reliable 10-year employee and a devout Mormon who stuck to his schedule like clockwork, Massey said. He was married with three children and six grandchildren.
The day he disappeared, Ricks left his house but turned around because he had forgotten to kiss his wife of 42 years on the way out the door, Massey said.
“The anguish of the whole event will last me the rest of my life,” he said about the family’s reaction to the news of Ricks’ death.
The deputy took a last look after the search had officially ended for the night and found the body, Massey said. He noticed Ricks’ boots first and then saw his body clad in a transit authority clothing.
The Harrisons will be extradited to Utah to face 16 charges each, including kidnapping and drug possession. They are not talking to police, Centerville, Utah, police Lt. Von Steenblik said.