SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — One of two men charged in the kidnapping and murder of a Utah train worker has died after hanging himself in a northern Utah jail with a bedsheet, authorities said Monday.
Flint Wayne Harrison, 52, was found hanging in his cell shortly after midnight Monday at the Davis County Jail in in Farmington, Utah, about 20 miles north of Salt Lake City.
Flint Harrison was not on any kind of suicide watch and did not have a cellmate, said Sgt. DeeAnn Servey, a spokeswoman for the Davis County Sheriff’s Office. She declined to say when he had last been checked by jail staff, citing a pending investigation into the death.
Harrison, and his son, 22-year-old Dereck James “DJ” Harrison, are accused of abducting 63-year-old Kay Ricks in Salt Lake City and killing him in May in southwestern Wyoming.
The two were being held in Utah where they were set to stand trial this year on 16 separate drug and kidnapping charges. They were then expected to be transferred to Wyoming to face charges in Ricks’ death. Wyoming prosecutors said last week that they wouldn’t announce whether they would seek the death penalty against the Harrisons until they were transferred from Utah to face the Wyoming charges.
Servey said the younger Harrison was notified of his father’s death and placed on a suicide watch.
Ricks’ family said in a statement it is disappointed Flint Harrison won’t have to answer for a “brutal and senseless” crime.
“The Ricks Family knows full well that nothing will bring Kay back,” the statement says. “However, we hoped that Flint and DJ Harrison would both answer for their crimes. Now, DJ is left to explain.”
The Ricks family said while they don’t know why Flint Wayne Harrison apparently killed himself, they think it may have had something to do with the hard work of Utah and Wyoming law enforcement officers who built the case against him.
The family also called on Utah authorities to release Dereck James “DJ” Harrison to Wyoming to speed up the process of facing murder charges in Wyoming. Prosecutors in Utah and Wyoming did not immediately return calls for comment.
Spencer Allred, county attorney in Lincoln County, Wyoming, said last week that it would likely be next year until the Harrisons went to trial in Wyoming since the two men need to resolve the kidnapping charges in Utah first.
Utah prosecutors were set to lay out their evidence against Flint Harrison at an Aug. 9 hearing. His son has waived his right to such a hearing, and is due back in court on Aug. 22. A trial wasn’t likely until November, meaning the Utah case would be resolved early next year.
His son has pleaded not guilty to the Utah charges.
Prosecutors say that after the kidnapping of the Utah women, the Harrisons abducted Ricks, a longtime employee of the Utah Transit Authority, and took him in his work truck to Wyoming.
Wyoming charging documents say the Harrisons beat Ricks to death on their way to a remote Wyoming hideout.
The pair was arrested in Pinedale, Wyoming, after a five-day manhunt. An autopsy found that Ricks died from head injuries and suffered cuts to his neck.
Servey, the Utah sheriff’s spokeswoman, said the neighboring Weber County Sheriff’s Office is investigating Flint Harrison’s death. The State Medical Examiner will also conduct an autopsy.
It’s the second death at the jail this year, Servey said.
Associated Press writer Brady McCombs contributed to this report.