SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The FBI asked the public for tips Wednesday as it investigates whether a father and son accused of tying up a woman and her four teenage daughters in a basement are linked to the death of a Utah rail worker.
Investigators are looking for any information about the movements of Flint Wayne Harrison and his 22-year-old son, Dereck James Harrison, during a manhunt that started after the five women escaped May 10 and ended near the suspects’ remote Wyoming hideout May 14, FBI Special Agent Eric Barnhart said.
The Harrisons are persons of interest in the disappearance of Kay Ricks, 63, who was working close to where the suspects hid from a police before heading north, Barnhart said.
The body of Ricks, a grandfather, was found along a key route between the two states, and his work truck was discovered near the Wyoming campsite where the two men laid low before their arrests.
An autopsy confirmed Ricks’ death was a homicide, but investigators are conducting additional tests to determine his cause of death, the Lincoln County, Wyoming, Sheriff’s Office said in a statement Wednesday.
Though the two cases have not been definitively linked, authorities said the coincidences are too strong to ignore.
The FBI is looking for any firsthand information or surveillance footage along the highways between Salt Lake City and Pinedale, Wyoming. Investigators are particularly interested in May 12, the day Ricks vanished during his shift maintaining downtown Salt Lake City’s light-rail lines.
“Don’t assume that we have anything,” said Barnhart, who is in charge of the FBI’s Salt Lake City division. “We have fair amount, a great deal in fact, but … when in doubt, please call.”
Anyone with information can call 1-800-225-5324.
Video captured Ricks’ truck near a light-rail station by Salt Lake City’s baseball stadium the evening he went missing. It was seen again hours later in Diamondville, Wyoming, near where his body was discovered.
The Harrisons were arrested after the father turned himself in and pointed police to their wilderness hideout. His son, 22, was spotted that night near a police roadblock.
They were extradited to Utah, where they were being held without bail on charges of kidnapping, drug possession and other crimes.
Police say the Harrisons lured a woman and her daughters to a home with an invitation to a barbecue, then tied them up and beat the mother with a baseball bat.
Investigators believe the men were using drugs heavily and wrongly thought the mother had reported them to police. The women broke free and escaped.