When they came for him, Richard Ricci was enjoying a plate of spaghetti and a beer. Or maybe it was manicotti; he loved Italian food.
An experienced armed robber, Ricci shot a cop while knocking off a pharmacy in 1983. He was also a drug addict, who had bounced in and out of the Utah State Prison seven times in 29 years.
Ricci had been a bad man, and maybe he still was when police officers—accompanied by agents from the Utah Department of Probation and Parole—rapped their knuckles on the metal door of trailer No. 158 in the Shadow Ridge Estates on June 14, 2002.
By most appearances, though, Ricci was attempting, as all humans must do, to plow forward in life. On Valentine's Day, four months prior, he married Angela Morse, and became the only stable male figure to ever pass through the life of Angela's young son, Trevor.
Another thing Ricci was pursuing was work. He was handy at construction, and had labored for a number of contractors around the Salt Lake Valley.
For Ricci, it is possible to imagine that his life had never looked so good. Each Saturday, he loaded Trevor and other neighbor kids into his white 1990 Jeep Cherokee and hauled them to their Jr. Jazz basketball games. He mowed the plush green lawn that connected trailer No. 158 to No. 159—where Angela's parents lived—and he loved his new wife, whose picture he'd first seen while serving the tail end of a four-year prison sentence with Angela's brother, David Morse.
But a blinding series of poor choices, abysmal luck, a past he could not shake and the blender of pressure that nearly every law man and woman in Utah found themselves in when 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart disappeared from her castle-like home in Salt Lake City's Federal Heights neighborhood on June 5, 2002, ensured that this pasta dinner would be Ricci's last.
All four of these elements of the Richard Ricci story became tragically intertwined with the fortunes of Ed Smart—a mortgage broker and realtor whose home at 1509 Kristianna Circle had, for years, been a hive of work. Roofers, drywallers, finish carpenters, framers, painters, handymen and plumbers had cycled through the home.
For roughly eight months in 2001, Ricci was one of these men, painting, hanging drywall and roofing the Smart home, which would soon be put on the market for $1.19 million.
As work commenced on the home, Smart, his wife, Lois and their half-dozen children were living there. And on June 5, 2002, one of these children, a shy, lanky blond girl name Elizabeth, vanished.
This tale—the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping, investigation and the girl's triumphant and bizarre return—has been told more than its fair share of times, in multiple formats, including a made-for-TV movie. Elizabeth Smart's uncle, Tom Smart, a former photographer for the Deseret News, penned a book, In Plain Sight: The Startling Truth Behind the Elizabeth Smart Investigation.
But for all of the stories, media interviews and interest, no mere member of the public—not even Tom Smart, whose book provides a first-person account of the investigation—has ever laid eyes upon the 1,529-page Elizabeth Smart police report.
While working on an unrelated story in the fall of 2014, a Salt Lake City Police officer made an offhand comment to a City Weekly reporter about the department's habit of classifying police reports. The report that City Weekly was searching for dealt with a lunch lady who had garnered national media attention when she threw away children's lunches at Uintah Elementary School. The lunch lady report, the officer noted, had been marked "classified," and therefore, officers had no knowledge of it.
One probing question about how police reports are classified led the officer to note that many police reports are private, including the Elizabeth Smart report, which had never been seen.
Hoping to arrive at a quick, easy story about the Salt Lake City Police Department's method of classifying documents, a one-sentence Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA) request was filed on Feb. 24, 2015: "I'd like to obtain the police reports, incident reports and any investigation reporters relating to the 2002 disappearance of Elizabeth Smart."
What began as a simple request quickly became a 13-month effort to acquire a tree's worth of paper on the principle that reports compiled by public agencies on the public's behalf are in fact public, unless proven otherwise.
After haggling over the high costs assessed by the police department to drag a thick black marker over nearly every single name contained in the report, and convincing city attorneys that a gag order issued during a criminal trial that had expired years prior did not forbid them from releasing it, the Elizabeth Smart police report arrived via a secured email link, on March 3, 2016.
You can read the police report below.
According to Candee Allred, the police department's GRAMA coordinator, the report had never before been released to the public. A separate open-records request seeking all of the instances the report had been formally sought yielded only two: City Weekly's and one on Oct. 1, 2015, from a true-crime writer. Allred says the city hangs onto GRAMA requests for only two years, meaning that it could have been requested before. Certainly, though, it was never released.
The sprawling report is peppered with a sense of panic and confusion. The first 110 pages are a diffused jarble of supplemental reports, beginning at the end, with the arrests of the actual kidnappers, Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee. There is a police sketch of a face covered by a robe, similar to what the kidnappers and Elizabeth wore.
By page 110, the report becomes a nauseating chronological slog through Salt Lake City's hot summer months, on through fall and into the winter, when, the world now knows, police were never too far away from finding Elizabeth, but also spent a potentially cataclysmic amount of time sniffing around the wrong tree: Richard Ricci.
And it is Ricci, who was arrested at his trailer on June 14, 2002, and who was found in his cell at the Utah State Prison on Aug. 27, 2002, unconscious and not breathing, and who died from what a doctor notes in the police report appeared to be a "stress related" brain aneurysm, who for hundreds upon hundreds of pages, is the undisputed star of the Elizabeth Smart police report.
In the morning
High atop the northeast bench of Salt Lake City sits Kristianna Circle, a cul-de-sac lined with hulking homes that are in turn occupied by the Salt Lake Valley's monied set. In 2001, the Smart family shared the street, and the surrounding neighborhood, with a gaggle of physicians, surgeons and retired physicians and surgeons, all of whom were interviewed by police.
Although he was one of six offspring of Dr. Charles Smart, a surgeon, Ed did not enter the medical field. According to Tom Smart's book, Ed was a homebuilder of sorts who, in 2002, was six years into a project on Kristianna Circle that involved no fewer than 60 construction workers.
While Ed was dubbed a rich man in the media, the police report, and Tom Smart's book, indicate that, at the time of the kidnapping at least, this simply was not the case.
In the way that rich men enter and exit the world the same way as poor men, so too do men usually awake. But in the early morning hours of June 5, Ed Smart awoke in a manner that few men, rich or poor, have experienced. His youngest daughter, Mary Katherine, told him that someone had crept into her and her sister's bedroom, and taken Elizabeth.
Information is conflicting about exactly what occurred next. The police report indicates that Ed Smart's first calls for help went to family and fellow members of his Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ward. Tom Smart insists in his book that Ed first dialed 911, then called family and friends. Ed says he absolutely called police first.
Either way, police reports note that when investigators did arrive, the Smart home—a bonafide crime scene—was littered with family members, neighbors and church goers, some delivering stereotypical flats of food, as if preparing for a Mormon baby blessing or baptism.
"It was a mess," remembers Det. Cordon Parks, who, along with every other homicide detective in Salt Lake City, was called to the scene that morning. "It was an absolute mess. We got there, the house was full of people."
Parks says he watched as a woman walked past the policeman at the front door, entered the kitchen and put a dish of "Jell-O down next to the footprint on the kitchen counter, next to the point-of-entry window."
With much of the Salt Lake City police force on the scene, or on their way, and agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and surrounding police departments soon to arrive, all kinds of people were being awakened to the jarring news that a young girl had been abducted from her bedroom in the middle of the night.
It didn't take police long to glean that Ed's home had for years been a hive of activity, involving, in part, a network of workers acquired through an employment program administered through the LDS Church.
This is how Ricci met Ed, and, the police reports show, the two men appeared to get along well. As partial payment for his services, Ed sold Ricci a Jeep Cherokee Pioneer.
Of the contractors interviewed by police, Ricci was among the longer-tenured employees, spending eight months doing construction work around the Smart home for $10 an hour.
"He was looking for a job," Smart, in a phone interview, tells City Weekly. "A person that I knew said he was going to hire him and that he seemed to be able to do a lot of things. He was just incredibly friendly to the kids."
Smart's involvement with Ricci, and most of the other people who had been hammering nails, repairing shingles and laying carpet in his home in 2001, came to an end almost a year to the day before Elizabeth went missing, when a $1,600 bracelet belonging to Lois Smart disappeared.
Ed reported the missing bracelet to police on June 8, 2001—and because property had gone missing one time before when Ricci was working—he suspected his handyman. Police spoke to Ricci and all of the other contractors who were working in the Smart home around the time the bracelet was taken. Ricci and everyone else denied taking the bracelet, and investigators closed the case.
Ricci's name popped up on the police's radar one time prior, in April of 2001, after a brazen nighttime robbery at a home on Federal Heights Circle, near the Smart's. At 3 a.m. on April 4, the homeowner told police that a houseguest was awakened by a rustling. When the person questioned the intruder, a male voice replied, then exited the room. The robber took $2,000 in jewelry and $300 cash. The day before the robbery, a man named Richard was working in the room, the homeowner told police.
Although Ricci's name was blared prominently in both of these two incidents, Ed Smart says he had no idea Ricci had a past riddled with crime until police began looking into him in connection with Elizabeth's disappearance—facts that Smart says cast a shadow over his trust of the police's abilities just as he needed them most.
"I was completely blown away," Ed Smart says of his reaction to being told of Ricci's criminal past. "It created such doubt in my mind as to what did it mean when somebody came up to your house and there had been a robbery? Did [the police] actually do a background check on them or did they just say what you wanted to hear?"
A year after canning his workers, and subsequently resuming work with others—including the street preacher who ended up taking his daughter—Ed Smart discovered Elizabeth missing, and shortly after, was told that one of his former employees, the one he suspected of snatching away his wife's bracelet, the one who knew his way around the house and who knew his children, had been checked into prison about as regularly as an airline pilot checks into hotels.
Ricci's troubled past, and his possible connections to thefts in the Federal Heights neighborhood, gave police all the ammunition they needed to place Ricci under some hot lights and begin posing tough questions. Once this was completed, and Ricci showed that he was capable of lying about the thefts to stay out of prison, Salt Lake City police officials called out Adult Probation & Parole to haul the man in.
At 2:45 p.m. on June 14, a few hours before Ricci's last family dinner, he was questioned for the second time regarding the thefts and his work at the Smart home. After initially denying he'd stolen any property, Ricci eventually admits to police that he stole from Ed Smart, and he doesn't deny that he broke into a nearby home.
But in the same interview, Ricci says he'll take a polygraph test, and that, as he told police during a prior interview, on the night of June 4, he watched the television show Friends, then turned in at 11:30 p.m.
Investigators weren't convinced. "It is clear from the interview that [Ricci] has been breaking into homes in the area and has stolen from the Smarts and is very familiar with the Smart house layout and does know the kids," reads page 897 of the police report. "It is was [sic] also clear that [Ricci] is a cat burglary [sic] and in the past has broken into home [sic] while people are home."
Shortly after Ricci was sent on his way, officers met with then Salt Lake City Police Chief Rick Dinse. "It was felt that [Ricci] was not forthcoming about information and that because of [Ricci] being a cat burglar and his relationship with the Smarts it was decided to have AP&P agent again get a hold of [Ricci] and put him in jail on a parole violation on a hold. [Ricci] was found and located and book [sic] in jail."
Over the next two months, Ricci acknowledged being a thief. Indeed, officers found pearls stripped from Lois Smart's bracelet at Ricci's trailer, making Ricci not only a thief, but a liar.
But there was one big thing Ricci wasn't lying about. He woke up next to Angela Ricci on the morning of June 5, just like he said. He either went to work that day or he mowed the lawn. He did not, after clicking off Friends at 11:30 p.m., hop into his Jeep, the lienholder of which remained Ed Smart, drive from the Shadow Ridge Estates mobile home park in Kearns, cross the Salt Lake Valley to the Federal Heights neighborhood, slash a window screen with his pocket knife, wake Elizabeth and then creep out the door without anyone noticing.
"[Angela] said she thought she and [Ricci] got up around 0600 a.m. or 0630 a.m. because [Ricci] had to go to work," an officer recounts from an interview with Angela Ricci, on page 653 of the police report. "[Angela] said that she and [Ricci] got up, smoked cigarettes, drank coffee and read the newspaper. [Angela] said that they also watched the TV and saw the kidnapping on the news."
Too much Richard
Even before he died, there was a growing sense by some police officers and the Smart family that all of the authorities' efforts on his behalf were, at worst, a total waste of time, or, at best, simply not going anywhere.
"We don't suspect somebody," says Det. Bill Silver, who as the months flew past and there was no sign of Elizabeth, joined Det. Parks as one of only two full-time Salt Lake City investigators chasing down leads. "We rule people out and then we come to our suspect. And that was the problem we had with Richard. We couldn't rule him out. There wasn't enough information there, and he was shady as it was, and being an ex-con, he really didn't like talking to us very much, either."
One matter that Ricci never did adequately explain to police involved the number of miles on his Jeep. On May 28, Ricci took the car, which was in need of a new fuel pump, to a mechanic. The mechanic replaced the pump, and noted the mileage, 134,321. On May 30, the police report states that a woman called the mechanic and asked if she could take the Jeep and pay later. The mechanic, having developed a good relationship with Ricci, released the vehicle. When Ricci returned the Jeep on June 8 for more work, the mechanic told police it was dirty. Ricci, the mechanic said, was wearing dirty clothes and the odometer now read 135,373.
The fixation on the Jeep was immense, and Ed Smart remembers bursting into tears as he begged Angela Ricci to get her husband to fill in the blanks.
A sufficient answer was never found, either because Richard Ricci didn't feel like telling the police where he'd driven, or maybe it's possible to put 1,000 miles on a car in eight or nine days.
"I hate to be a stickler about the miles, but that car went somewhere; he did something, because supposedly the mechanic had logged it in and logged it out," Smart says. "It created this issue of, where were those miles [from]? What were you doing at that time driving that car?"
Smart says there were "compelling reasons" for law enforcement to be so "maniacally focused on Ricci."
"But the thing to us, we just wanted to have answers to things and to move on," Smart says. "Finding a missing child is really [a] process of elimination, and as long as people were focused and stuck, it wouldn't happen."
Once Ricci was pinned as a prime suspect, Parks says the investigation was split into two teams: the Ricci team and the everything else team.
"So Richard Ricci wasn't the sole focus of the investigation, there [were] a lot of investigations going on," Parks says. "But he got fully half of the investigative effort by a lot of people."
After spending a couple of months on the Ricci team, Parks says he conducted an interview with one of Ricci's nieces at the trailer court. Parks recalls that she was angry—the kind of angry that innocent people project when they're being called a liar. That's when Parks realized he needed to break new trail on the case.
"I went to the captain and told him I wanted to get off the Richard Ricci team because I didn't think he did it," Parks says.
He doesn't remember if this epiphany came to him before or after Ricci died. But for Smart, Ricci's final breath gave life to an investigation that hadn't gotten him any closer to finding his daughter.
"We kind of had this feeling that Ricci was a dead end," Smart says. "We felt like his passing enabled the investigation to move forward rather than standing at the standstill it was at."
The public response to Elizabeth Smart's disappearance was enormous. Parks says 10,000 tips were received, more than 1,000 of which were from psychics, some of whom claimed to be prophets of God.
While he says only one psychic lead was chased down by officers, an amazing number of other seemingly ludicrous leads were followed through.
Because Elizabeth Smart was wearing a pair of red silk pajamas when she went missing, every piece of red fabric found in the state became a potential clue.
On June 6, some "strands of maroon fabric" were found hanging from a branch in Red Butte Garden. Officers and the crime lab responded. On June 15, a girl handing out Elizabeth Smart missing fliers in Kaysville noticed a red sweatshirt caught on some rocks in an irrigation ditch. Detectives responded and booked the sweatshirt into evidence. In September, officers retrieved a pair of red pajamas found in Diamond Fork Canyon. And on June 16, officers responded to a home after a woman found a "wad of hair" on her lawn.
Looking at pornography also could land you an interview with police. As tips about suspicious behavior flooded in on June 5, one came in from a person who said that a neighbor, who lived with his parents, reportedly watched pornography and frequented "stripper bars." The house was searched, and there was no sign of Elizabeth. An LDS bishop who lived near the Smarts was asked to ponder if any of his flock had been having marital problems. One person, who had recently divorced after engaging in a string of affairs and viewing online pornography, came to mind. The man was interrogated, admitting to infidelity and viewing pornography. He was also given a lie detector test. On July 12, a man dropped his luxury car off at a dealership to be serviced. A service technician found pornography in the vehicle and called police. Police then called the man, who insisted it was "legal adult pornography," and he agreed to be interviewed at the station.
"I remember a lot of leads that were pretty silly to follow up, but we followed up anyway," Parks says. He and Silver even ventured into the wilds of Emery County in February, a month before Elizabeth was found, to search an old mine that reportedly belonged to Ricci's grandfather.
During the nine months that Elizabeth was missing, Parks says, he felt as though he was "living in a blender."
"I think it was a multiplier effect," he says. "Any child abduction by a stranger generates insane publicity. If it's the son or daughter of a really wealthy family, there's got to be a multiplier effect by 10. By noon, we had national news trucks parked on Kristianna Circle for God's sake. It was insane. The news coverage was insane."
Following up on these leads, and countless others, required significant resources. Parks says no fewer than 60 detectives and 20 administrators were working the case in the days after Elizabeth's disappearance.
While the vigor and support was helpful, it also proved to be disorganized.
When Parks asked to be dropped from the Ricci investigation unit, he realized that a fundamental tenet of police work—canvassing the neighborhoods around the Smart home in the early days of the investigation—had been botched.
"The bottom line is the canvas wasn't done very well and there were a lot of gaps in it," says Parks, who, as the investigation falls flat between pages 800 and 1,300 of the police report, documents his determined efforts to interview every resident of every home around the Smart's.
"I went through and just kept going out in a circle," Parks says. "I found things that should have been found and covered early on in the investigation, none of which panned out, by the way. The problem was, nobody put up a map on the wall and checked off the houses one at a time."
Both Parks and Silver recall memorable leads that left them exasperated. For Silver, it was a man from South Carolina who insisted he was holding Elizabeth captive and wanted reward money for her release. In the report, Silver leads the man along, asking questions that eventually expose the fact that he was lying. "I think he spent 18 months [in prison], courtesy of the federal government."
Parks says media attention, and the resulting fervor around the country, was so intense that it became dangerous. Police were looking for a man who was spotted sleeping in his car on a street near Kristianna Circle around the time of Elizabeth's disappearance. There was a rumor that the man had fled to Texas, and in no time, Parks says authorities there were barricading roads. "This guy didn't have anything to do with anything," Parks says. "Texas wound up doing roadblocks and Texas was taking people out at gunpoint just because they thought it might be the Elizabeth Smart kidnapper. It was crazy. If you said anything at all to the news media, suddenly they're doing roadblocks in Texas for Christ's sake. "I mean, it was dangerous. It was a public safety hazard. We had to be careful about what we released."
A leaky vessel and a new day
The name of Richard Ricci never appears in the police report. Salt Lake City cited provisions under Utah's Government Records Access and Management Act that allow some information in public documents to remain secret. Privacy was the primary concern cited by police in regard to the Elizabeth Smart report.
But investigators, and perhaps to a much greater degree a rabidly thirsty media, didn't seem concerned with protecting Richard Ricci's identity back in 2002.
A man arrested in part for drinking a beer with his dinner (forbidding alcohol and drug use is a common condition of parole for those who have been incarcerated for drug offenses) quickly became the primary suspect in the case—a fact that, had he lived, would have no doubt cast a long shadow over his remaining days.
Parks says he doesn't know who released Ricci's name to the press. It wasn't him and it wasn't Silver. All he knows is that during the high-profile investigation, the police had a difficult time containing what was being said in its interview rooms.
"We couldn't keep anything secret," Parks says. "People leaked information from within the building. Witnesses that we would go out and talk to would immediately run to the press and tell their story to [them] right after they told us. There were very few secrets on this investigation."
Parks and Silver say that they, along with every other police officer in Salt Lake City, takes the power they wield while investigating citizens seriously.
And having a spotlight shine so bright on Ricci, ultimately an innocent man, is rare. "We don't actually have a lot of cases around here where innocent people are accused of crimes," Parks says. "That just doesn't happen a lot."
"We drag a hell of a lot of people into this building that we think committed crimes and we interrogate them and then we let them go because we don't have the evidence to charge them," he continues.
Silver says there is little doubt that Ricci was an "easy solution" to the case. "Does that mean that I want to put my name on a piece of paper that says, 'Hey, we prosecuted Richard Ricci for kidnapping,' and come back 10 years later and find, 'No, he didn't [do it]'? Absolutely not."
While what befell Ricci is regrettable, and Parks says that in hindsight, there is no doubt that he was "overly focused on," and that the department "violated a sacred trust, and that is, we named a suspect before he was charged," the Elizabeth Smart investigation changed the Salt Lake City Police Department.
The department created a Child Abduction Response Team, and has honed its skills in the event that another child abduction occurs. Parks says the Smart home, crowded on the morning of the kidnapping with relatives and ward members, would not stand today, even if the homeowners are well-off—an excuse that Parks says a police administrator uttered that morning to justify the fact that the crime scene was being trampled by a herd of humans.
Parks says methodical canvassing is now performed during any serious investigation. Another important change involves the now robust public relations department at the police station, where the department hires experienced professionals to deal with the media, and also provides training to several sworn officers who act as Public Information Officers.
"We're much more committed to controlling the message that gets out there," Silver says. "In other words, when we put stuff out, we make sure that the details are presented to the public correctly."
Several design aspects of the new public safety building were spawned by the Elizabeth Smart case. There is a press briefing room on the first floor, and a parking area toward the rear of the building where media trucks can plug into jacks that connect to the media room. Interview rooms are located throughout the building, and multiple sets of elevators were installed to prevent victims taking a ride upstairs with a suspect.
But the biggest lesson learned, Parks says, was the realization that police need to go to the public quickly for help. "I think the greatest thing out of the Elizabeth Smart case, is we learned to not be so withholding of information and we've learned to go to the public for help sooner. The public always responds and it always turns out good," Parks says.
This aspect of the learning process was cemented, Parks says, in the fact that the Salt Lake City Police Department did not solve the Elizabeth Smart case. Ed Smart and John Walsh, the host of America's Most Wanted, which pleaded with the public for help, solved the case.
"Because they did what? They appealed to the public and the public responded as usual in an overwhelming way and, ta-da, she was found," Parks says.
Mitchell was convicted of kidnapping and is serving a life sentence in federal prison. Mitchell's wife, Barzee, was given a 15-year prison sentence for her role in the kidnapping and sexual assault of Elizabeth.
And if there is a legacy, Parks says it is that, when the case wrapped up and Elizabeth ended up returning home—an outcome about as unusual as a lead from a psychic prophet of God panning out—the Salt Lake City Police Department did not do a great job.
"When it was all said and done, when it was all over with, there was a feeling that we really didn't do very well," Parks says. "We made a lot of mistakes on the case."
While troves of media attention was bathed over the Smart family during the nine months that Elizabeth was missing, one person impacted immensely, and tragically, by the case, was always hidden in the shadows.
Trevor Morse was 11 years old when his mother, Angela, married Richard Ricci in Mesquite, Nev., on Valentine's Day. Four months later, he remembers his step-father's last pasta dinner and his mother asking him to hide the beer.
"Funny story is my mom seen the cops knock and she said 'Trevor, go hide the beer, go hide the beer,' and I guess there's one can I forgot," Morse remembers.
That was the last time Morse saw Ricci, a man who to this day he calls "Dad."
Morse's mother asked if he wanted to visit him in jail, but Morse says he didn't want to see Ricci, who was known for his comedic timing and jokes, depressed.
As the 48-year-old Ricci lay in a hospital bed, dying, Angela Ricci gave her son another chance to see his dad. "I told my mom, 'No, I love him, but I remember him happy, healthy.' He died that day," Morse says.
Like Ricci, Angela grappled with drug problems that, on Dec. 15, 2015, claimed her life. On a GoFundMe page that Morse organized to help pay for funeral expenses, he wrote: "The official cause of death was suicide, but I believe she died from a broken heart."
Morse says his mother became addicted to prescription painkillers before she met Ricci, and never kicked the habit. The addiction, Morse says, was sparked by a car accident and subsequent prescription drugs she was given to fight pain.
Angela Ricci was found dead in trailer No. 5, on Chris Kay Drive, around the corner and down the street from Harmoney Bend Drive, where trailer No. 158 stands. A black, steel trailer occupies the driveway of trailer No. 5. It is filled with the broken, bed-bug infested furniture that Morse says filled the trailer.
Morse, 25, who has a 2-year-old son, has been bouncing from job to job, and from apartment to couch to apartment, trying to find his place in life.
Like the police, Morse says he learned from the case. Lesson No. 1, he says, was to never "judge a book by its cover."
"Everybody that knew him said he would never do such a thing because he was so kind-hearted, he would never do anything like that," Morse says of Ricci. "[He] was the closest thing I had to a father figure and that just got ripped from me."
Morse says that over the years, he listened as his mother cried herself to sleep, moaning that all she wanted from anyone involved was an apology. She did win a $150,000 settlement from the Utah Department of Corrections, in which the state denied any wrongdoing in Ricci's death.
His mother, Morse says, harbored a well of hatred toward the Smart family, he has tried to avoid the same path. But the very first thing Morse mentioned during an interview with City Weekly about the case, was that Elizabeth's sister, Mary Katherine, the only eyewitness to her sister's disappearance, seemed to know one thing for certain, and said so early in the case: Richard Ricci didn't take Elizabeth.
While Ed Smart says he believes law enforcement did the right thing in taking a hard look at Ricci, he, too, recalls the night when Mary Katherine told him Ricci wasn't involved.
In the days and months after Elizabeth went missing, TV time in the Smart household was kept to a minimum. But one night, the television was on and Ricci's face is what Mary Katherine saw.
"She said, 'What's Richard doing on there,'" Ed Smart recalls. "She said 'It wasn't him.'"CW