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THE NATION

Jeep Is Checked for Clues to Missing Utah Girl

June 29, 2002|From Reuters

SALT LAKE CITY — Police investigating the abduction of a Utah girl have seized records, including mileage, on a vehicle belonging to a handyman who tops the list of possible suspects, a mechanic said Friday.

Neth Moul, owner of Neth's Auto Repair, also said that when the vehicle was brought to the repair shop June 8, three days after the disappearance of 14-year-old Elizabeth Ann Smart, it was dirty and had insects covering the windshield.

Richard Albert Ricci, who was arrested June 14 on an unrelated parole violation, did work last year in the Smart home. Police said they decided to hold him after they found discrepancies in his alibi.

Ricci, who has a criminal record, has denied involvement in the girl's disappearance. Police have not called him a suspect but say he is at "the top of a list" of people who might be targeted.

Police confiscated three vehicles belonging to Ricci but returned two of them, keeping Ricci's Jeep Cherokee for more analysis.

According to Moul, police seized his log books recording the Ricci repair work, dates and mileage.

The mileage is important because the vehicle apparently had recorded 1,000 extra miles from the time Ricci picked up the vehicle from the mechanic May 30 and brought it back June 8.

Ricci's wife, Angela, has said her husband was with her the night Elizabeth was kidnapped.

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