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FBI asks for help retracing steps of 'persons of interest' in UTA employee killing

(Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)


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SALT LAKE CITY — The FBI confirmed Tuesday that it considers Flint and Dereck "DJ" Harrison "persons of interest" in the killing of UTA employee Kay Ricks.

Eric Barnhart, special agent in charge of the FBI's Salt Lake City office, said the father and son — who are charged with kidnapping and assaulting a woman and her four daughters in Centerville — are persons of interest in the murder case based on a "number of factors" that he declined to disclose.

However, he indicated they are being investigated for more reasons than just a timeline of events that is suspicious.

"It's not just mere coincidence," he said.

The FBI is now asking for the public's help in retracing the steps the Harrisons took to get to Wyoming from Salt Lake City, as well as how Ricks ended up in Wyoming.

The Harrisons are accused of luring a Clinton woman and her four teenage daughters to a house in Centerville on May 10. Once there, the men allegedly led the women into the basement where police say they had a shotgun, a baseball bat, zip ties and duct tape already ripped into strips in preparation for their arrival. The women were tied up and beaten before breaking free and escaping.

After the Harrisons fled the home, they got a ride from an acquaintance to a South Salt Lake motel, according to police. Somehow, they made their way from there to the Half Moon Lake area near Pinedale.

Flint Harrison, 51, was arrested near his home in Pinedale on May 14. His son Dereck Harrison, 22, of Centerville, was arrested later that same day about 10 miles away in the Half Moon Lake area.

Ricks' UTA truck was later found in the area of the lake. His body was located about 100 miles away off a dirt road in Lincoln County, Wyoming, approximately 16 miles south of Kemmerer.

The FBI now would like the public to help them fill in the timeline of what happened between May 10 and May 14, and especially between the evening of May 12, when Ricks disappeared, to May 14 when the two were arrested.

After first fleeing the Centerville home, police say the Harrisons got a ride from an acquaintance to the Ramada Inn, 2450 S. State in South Salt Lake. That was about midnight early on the morning of May 11.

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After checking out of the hotel later that day, detectives have confirmed the Harrisons were in the South Salt Lake area until about midday on May 11.

On the afternoon of May 12, Ricks, 63, of American Fork, went to work and attended a 4 p.m. staff meeting. His maintenance vehicle was last spotted in the parking lot at the UTA's Ballpark Station, 180 W. 1300 South, between 5 and 5:10 p.m. on May 12. But officials could not confirm who was driving at that time.

UTA Police Chief Fred Ross said the vehicle was next spotted two hours later in Diamondville, Wyoming, about 7 p.m. by employees of a fast food restaurant. Those employees could not confirm who or how many people were in the vehicle.

Salt Lake City to Diamondville is approximately 130 miles. The average driving time between the two cities is about two hours.

Although multiple local, state and federal agencies in two states have already collected evidence in the case, Barnhart doesn't want to discourage the public from reporting anything.

"Don't assume that we have anything," he said. "Don't assume that what you may have seen or heard (isn't important). … Many times the public isn't aware of how much of help they can be."

Barnhart further stressed to the public not to self-censor information they might have and to let the FBI determine what is and isn't important information.

"Nothing is unimportant," he said.

Barnhart confirmed Tuesday that Ricks' UTA vehicle is in Salt Lake City in the possession of the FBI, whose investigators have been searching through it for forensic and other evidence.

The FBI agent declined to answer whether the public should still be on the lookout for guns that the Harrisons had while they were allegedly on the run.

Anyone with any information on Ricks or the Harrisons can call a special tip line set up by the FBI at 1-800-Call-FBI (225-5324).

The father and son each face five counts of kidnapping, a first-degree felony; one count of aggravated assault resulting in serious bodily injury, a second-degree felony; four counts of aggravated assault, a third-degree felony; possession of a controlled substance, a class A misdemeanor; possession of drug paraphernalia, a class B misdemeanor; and three counts of interrupting a communications device, a class B misdemeanor.

Flint Harrison is also charged with use of a firearm by a restricted person, a second-degree felony. Dereck Harrison faces the same charge, but as a third-degree felony.

A preliminary hearing for Flint Harrison is scheduled for Aug. 9. Dereck Harrison's next court hearing is set for June 1.

Contributing: Ladd Egan

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