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Daughter's abductor likely had help, father says

Utah teenager Elizabeth Smart has been missing since June 5.
Utah teenager Elizabeth Smart has been missing since June 5.  

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (CNN) -- More than one person probably was involved in the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart, the Utah teenager taken from her bedroom nearly three months ago, her father, Ed, said Monday.

The investigation grew more complicated with last week's death of Richard Ricci, the family's former handyman whom authorities had questioned. A felon with a 30-year prison record, Ricci was in prison on a parole violation unrelated to the kidnapping case.

"I still feel that Richard ... was involved in the abduction of my daughter" and had help, Smart told CNN's "American Morning With Paula Zahn."

"Richard was not forthcoming," Smart said. "He could have come forward a number of times and never did. So I've been disappointed so many times with him."

Ricci, 48, was taken off life support Friday night after suffering a stroke earlier in the week. The Smarts offered condolences Saturday to his widow, Angela.

He had maintained his innocence and was never charged.

Elizabeth Smart was abducted at gunpoint from her family's 6,600-square-foot Salt Lake City home June 5 while her parents and four brothers slept. Her younger sister, who was in the bedroom with Elizabeth, witnessed the abduction.

A couple of incidents point to the possible involvement of other people in the kidnapping, her father said.

A few days after the abduction, a witness said he saw Ricci and another man amid suspicious circumstances, Smart said.

Repair shop owner Neth Moul said Ricci, who had left a Jeep at the shop, took the vehicle May 30 and returned it June 8, with 500 to 1,000 more miles on the odometer.

After returning the Jeep, Ricci removed a post-hole digger, put two seat covers in a black bag and carried away another bag filled with unidentified material, according to Moul.

Ricci then walked across the street with the tool and the bags and met an unidentified man who had waved to him from a convenience store parking lot, Moul said.

Ricci denied he took the Jeep.

Ricci's wife said a set of keys to the Jeep had been stolen in mid-April, so someone else could have driven the vehicle. She also said it never had seat covers.

On Friday, the Smarts offered a $3,000 reward for information leading to the person who may have walked away with Ricci from the auto mechanics shop.

Smart also said someone had tried to burglarize his sister-in-law's house, using a method similar to that of Elizabeth's abduction. In both instances, someone cut a window screen and placed one or more chairs under a window.

Smart said he continues to hold out hope that his daughter will be found alive.

"I know the odds aren't in our favor, but I still am," he said.




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