PINEDALE, Wyoming (ABC4 Utah) – The final suspect in the Centerville, Utah kidnapping and assault of a mother and her four children has come to an end with the capture of 22 year-old DJ Harrison late Saturday night, and today we learned his mother has joined him in jail for violations for her parole.
Despite a search across state lines and several threats made towards police, it was a non-climactic capture when police say Harrison gave up without a struggle.
“About 10 o’clock or sometime before some of the law enforcement personnel that remained on scene to keep the road block up here had seen him walking up the road about a mile-and-a-half towards them and they picked him up,” said Sgt. Peterson with the Sublette Co. Sheriff’s Office.
“It was almost a relief,” said Lt. Von Steenblik with Centerville Police. “I think he was tired of the hiding and obviously he was very tired and I think he was ready to give up.”
Peterson says no officers or personnel were injured in the capture and the entire incident was resolved peacefully. Harrison has now been booked into jail at the Sublette Co. Sheriff’s Office where police will begin the extradition process to face charges in Utah along with his father in the next day of two.
“They’ll have the charges explained to them and asked to sign a waiver of extradition, if they sign that waiver then Centerville will go and pick them up and bring them back to Utah. If they refuse to sign the waiver, then we’ll obtain a governor’s warrant through the Attorney General’s Office and then a Wyoming judge will make a ruling whether they should be returned to Utah or not,” says Lt. Steenblik.
The search for Harrison began early Saturday morning when Flint Harrison – the second suspect sought in the case and the father of DJ Harrison – turned himself into police at the Sublette Co. Sheriff’s Office at 1:45 a.m. Prior to his arrest, police say there was no indication the pair were in Wyoming, even though Flint Harrison owns a house in the area. Police say he abandoned his son and their campsite around 9:00 Friday night.
“There was absolutely no indication that they were coming to Wyoming, everything has led us to believe and the Utah authorities to believe they were in the Salt Lake are,” says Peterson. “He just turned himself in, he was not armed.”
Investigators still don’t know why Harrison turned himself in it say he immediately began working with investigators providing them description of areas and locations where they could find his son.
He said they could find DJ in the Half Moon Area, an area full of rocky and mountainous terrain. Police evacuated the Half Moon campground area and shut down access to the road leading in. Homes in the area were cleared by police and residents were advised to remain indoors. Though police considered DJ armed and dangerous, carrying at least two firearms and a couple of knives, police said he posed no serious threat the the area. Residents attempting to gain entry to the area were done so on a case-by-case basis and with a police escort.
Multiple agencies from surrounding precincts – including the Green River Police Department, Rock Springs Police Department, and the Sweet Water County Sheriff’s Office, joined the small-rural Pinedale police force in the search. Investigators say they had about 50 officers form ground crews to look in the areas where Harrison had described his son may be. The Utah Department of Public Safety also brought in a helicopter to provide the additional resources needed to locate Harrison. The helicopter was equipped with infra-red technology to assist in the search.
“He knew it [helicopter] was from Utah, he saw the markings on it. He knew they were searching for him, so he just laid low, he hid underneath the trees and shrubs,” says Lt. Steenblik.
Early Saturday evening police located Harrison’s campsite and retrieved his camping gear. Investigators say Harrison had enough food to last him one day and limited camping equipment.
“He had some camping gear but this is a wilderness and unless he’s an avid outdoorsmen and prepared for the long haul it could be pretty rough for him,” said Peterson.
After DJ’s arrest police say his mother, MaryAnn Harrison showed up at the jail along with DJ’s grandmother to bail out the two. She came with $10,000 cash but police bail had been denied for the two.
“Maryann was very dramatic, she was interfering with the investigation and the Department of Corrections issued a warrant for her arrest and she was taken into custody as well,” said Lt. Steenblik.
Now she sits in jail alongside her son and ex-husband. Court records obtained by ABC4 News show Maryann Harrison was sentenced to a maximum of five years in the Utah State Prison for forgery and unlawful possession of a credit card. She was ordered to pay hundreds of dollars in fines, and placed on parole.
“She didn’t get permission to leave the state,” said Lt. Steenblik
The manhunt for DJ and Flint Harrison began after the two were suspected in the kidnapping and assault of a mother and her four daughters in the basement of a home in Centerville, Utah. Police say the two lured the women down into the basement with the false pretense of a BBQ. Down in the basement they they had zip-ties and duct tape laid out. Police say DJ and the mother had a friendly relationship and and say the women had no reason to believe their lives were in danger when they wee invited over.
“We know DJ and the mother and her daughters were very close family friends and that connection was made through DJ’s mother, Maryanne Harrison. DJ was a regular visitor at their home, he would have dinner there, pick up the girls from school – so, it was a close family-friend relationship, and so, the mother and the girls going to that BBQ was not anything unusual. They didn’t feel unsafe about doing so, and when they got there they thought they were kidding at first and then quickly realized that they were not,” said Lt. Von Steenblik with Centerville Police.
Centerville PD say DJ Harrison has become paranoid and believed the mother had turned him in to police for crimes related to drugs, which they say the mother had never contacted their department.
Lt. Steenblik says the mother and the four girls are now home recovering and relieved to learn the two have been captured.
“They’re doing better. They’ve just been laying low, both physically and emotionally, but they’re very happy,” says Lt. Steenblik.