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Man charged with murdering UTA worker found dead in jail cell

SHARE Man charged with murdering UTA worker found dead in jail cell

FARMINGTON — A Wyoming man charged with kidnapping and murdering a Utah Transit Authority employee was found dead in his jail cell Monday.

Flint Wayne Harrison, 52, of Pinedale, Wyoming, hung himself in his cell in the Davis County Jail.

"Our deputies and nursing staff immediately began efforts to revive the inmate and worked with our paramedics as well as Farmington firefighters for over 20 minutes. The resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful," the Davis County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

The incident occurred at 12:17 a.m. Monday.

Harrison and his son, Dereck James "DJ" Harrison, of Centerville, were each charged in Wyoming with murder in the first degree for the brutal beating death of Kay Porter Ricks, 63, of American Fork.

Charging documents indicate Ricks was killed over an 18-minute period that included Ricks' face being smashed with a blunt force object to the point he was no longer recognizable and his neck slashed three times before he was dumped under a sagebrush and left to die.

The Harrisons were charged with killing Ricks with "premeditated malice," as well as a second count of murder in the first-degree for killing Ricks "while perpetrating the crime of kidnapping." In addition, they were each charged with kidnapping and wrongful taking or disposing of property.

Harrison and his son were in the Davis County Jail facing Utah charges of kidnapping and assaulting a Clinton woman and her four teenage daughters in Centerville the day before they allegedly kidnapped and killed Ricks.

The Davis County Attorney's Office plans to prosecute the Harrisons with the Utah crimes first before sending them to Wyoming.

But Ricks' family issued a statement Monday calling on prosecutors to send DJ Harrison to Wyoming to face his murder charges there, and said Flint Harrison's death likely occurred because the case against the men is strong.

"We are saddened by all the events surrounding the murder of Kay. We acknowledge the many who continue to suffer because of this horrendous act. We anticipated that Flint Harrison would answer for his actions in a courtroom. And while we cannot know for certain why he chose to take his life, we can only believe that his actions had something to do with the hard work of multiple law enforcement agencies — including the UTA Police Department, Lincoln County Sherriff’s Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and others — in gathering the evidence needed to charge and convict Flint and his son, DJ, of the brutal and senseless murder of Kay," family spokesman Richard D. Massey wrote.

"The Ricks family calls upon Davis County law enforcement to release DJ Harrison to Lincoln County, Wyoming authorities. We believe this cooperative act by Davis County will speed up the process required to convict and sentence DJ. The Ricks family knows full well that nothing will bring Kay back. However, we hoped that Flint and DJ Harrison would both answer for their crimes. Now, DJ is left to explain.

"We are a family of faith and we know that we will see Kay again."

Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings declined to comment Monday about the family's request.

Flint Harrison's defense attorney, Susanne Gustin, declined to answer questions about her client's demeanor or how he was feeling in the days leading up to Monday's death because of confidentiality concerns.

"This is a final tragic event in a string of horrible tragic events," she said Monday. "It’s just another tragic situation."

Investigators say the Harrisons' crime spree began May 10 when they lured a Clinton woman and her daughters to a house in Centerville, claiming they were inviting them to a barbecue. 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 calling 911 as they ran out of the house, charging documents state.

After fleeing the Centerville home, investigators believe the Harrisons got a ride to a South Salt Lake motel early on the morning of May 11. On the afternoon of May 12, Ricks and his UTA vehicle went missing. Investigators believe that after kidnapping Ricks, the Harrisons drove along I-80 into Wyoming where Ricks was killed.

Lincoln County Attorney Spencer Allred said the criminal case against DJ Harrison will proceed as planned in Wyoming once the Utah case is wrapped up.

"Nothing that has happened today will change anything along those lines," he said Monday. "As soon as DJ Harrison is available to us, we will bring him to Lincoln County to face those charges that were filed against him.”

As of now, he said he expects that to happen sometime next year.

Flint Harrison's death in the Davis County Jail is being investigated by the Weber County Sheriff's Office and the state medical examiner.

Email: bwest@deseretnews.com

Twitter: MisterWestt