- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 18, 2016

AMERICAN FORK, Utah (AP) - Utah train maintenance worker Kay Porter Ricks lived a regimented life: He went to work at the same time each day, tried to use the same service truck on his route and came home at the same hour.

The morning before he went missing last week, he even returned home to give his wife of 42 years a kiss goodbye to avoid diverting from his daily routine.

So his family knew something was amiss when the 63-year-old Mormon grandfather didn’t come from work on May 12 and his truck was later spotted in Wyoming and his cellphone near a station across town, said Richard Massey, a spokesman for the family.

Their worst fears were realized Tuesday when a Wyoming sheriff’s deputy found Ricks dead, wearing his work boots and jeans, some 130 miles from the spot in Salt Lake City where he was last seen checking on train tracks.

Now, the FBI and investigators in Utah and Wyoming are trying to determine if a father and son accused of holding a woman and her four teenage daughters hostage had anything to do with his death.

His cause of death has not been disclosed. But Utah Transit Authority Police Chief Fred Ross said it has been ruled a homicide.

Police have not definitively linked Flint Wayne Harrison, 51, and his son Dereck James “DJ” Harrison, 22, to Ricks’ death.

“There are some coincidences there that would be impossible to ignore as we continue to investigate,” Lincoln County Sheriff Shane Johnson told the Deseret News.

Ricks vanished during his night shift a few miles from a Utah house where investigators believe the father and son had been lying low before heading to Wyoming. Ricks’ body was found in the same Wyoming county where his work truck was last spotted by surveillance cameras. The county borders the area where the Harrisons were camping before their weekend arrest.

The missing truck could explain how the Harrisons traveled nearly 250 miles from Utah to Wyoming, authorities said.

The deputy who found Ricks was taking one last look after the search had officially ended for the night when he noticed Ricks’ boots, Massey said. His body was discovered near a dirt road about 16 miles south of the town of Kemmerer, Wyoming, said Lincoln County Sheriff Shane Johnson.

Authorities still haven’t found Ricks’ truck but vowed to keep searching.

Massey said authorities haven’t told the Ricks family about finding any evidence connecting his disappearance to the Harrisons. He said Ricks’ family members who live in the small city of American Fork south of Salt Lake City, are mourning their loss rather than speculating on what happened. Ricks had three grown sons and six grandchildren.

“The fact that something nefarious may have happened to cause Kay to lose his life is really not the family’s focus,” said Massey. “There are six grandchildren that greatly miss their grandfather. As you can well imagine, it’s difficult explaining to them what has happened to their grandfather.”

The FBI is assisting authorities, but spokeswoman Sandra Yi Barker couldn’t provide any more details

The Harrisons were arrested over the weekend after a five-day search. The father eventually 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 on May 10 because they wrongly thought the mother had reported them to authorities. The family was able to break free and escape.

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.

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This story has been corrected to show that Ricks went missing May 12, not May 10, and he lived in American Fork, not Pleasant Grove.

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Associated Press writer Ben Neary in Cheyenne, Wyoming, contributed to this report.


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