FARMINGTON — A Centerville man charged alongside his father with kidnapping and beating a woman and her four daughters before fleeing the state pleaded not guilty Monday.
Dereck James "DJ" Harrison, 22, entered not guilty pleas at an arraignment Monday after waiving a preliminary hearing earlier this month. Harrison and his father, Flint Harrison, of Pinedale, Wyoming, each are charged with five counts of aggravated kidnapping, a first-degree felony, and five counts of aggravated assault, a third-degree felony, among other charges.
Single counts of aggravated assault had been filed as a second-degree felony for each of the Harrisons but were amended last week by prosecutors to third-degree felonies.
Dereck Harrison is scheduled to appear in court next at a pretrial conference Aug. 22, almost two weeks after an Aug. 9 preliminary hearing scheduled for his father.
According to police, the Harrisons used a ruse of meeting for a barbecue on May 10 to lure a Clinton woman to a house in Centerville, 190 N. 700 East. Instead, they allegedly met the woman and her four teenage daughters with a shotgun, a baseball bat, zip ties and duct tape already ripped into strips.
The father and son took the woman and her four daughters — ages 13, 15, 17 and 18 — into the basement where they bound their hands and feet and began hitting the mother, according to police. The younger girls either broke their ties or slipped their hands free, with the Harrisons pointing the shotgun at them or hitting them as they ran, police said.
The father and son fled as the girls called 911. Police responding to the house estimated they missed the Harrisons by mere minutes, beginning a manhunt that would last almost five days before they were arrested separately in Wyoming on May 14.
Police have said Dereck Harrison was acquainted with the woman and may have been retaliating against her, believing she had ratted him out about something, though at the time investigators said there was no indication something like that had actually occurred.
Family members told police the men had been using drugs for days and may have been in a state of methamphetamine-induced paranoia.
Police in Lincoln County, Wyoming, are investigating whether the two were involved in the killing of Utah Transit Authority employee Kay Ricks, whose body was found May 17 about an hour from the area where the two men were arrested.
Ricks, 63, of American Fork, disappeared from Salt Lake City along with his UTA vehicle May 12. The truck was later spotted in Diamondville, Wyoming, about 7 p.m. by employees of a fast-food restaurant who could not confirm who or how many people were inside. The UTA vehicle was found May 19 in a wooded area near Half Moon Lake in Wyoming.
Police are investigating possible connections between the Harrisons and Ricks' death, which has been ruled a homicide.