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For the week of March 19 - 25, 2003

News

Ketchum police chief surprised at kidnapping suspect

Lyman is former Salt Lake detective


By GREG MOORE
Express Staff Writer

Ketchum Police Chief Cory Lyman, who until February was commander of the Salt Lake City Police task force searching for kidnap victim Elizabeth Smart, said he was surprised to learn the girl was found with Brian Mitchell. When he was still on the case, Mitchell was not the prime suspect, Lyman said.

Lyman returned to Salt Lake City last week following Smartís discovery there Wednesday. He combined the visit with his own family, who are awaiting purchase of a house in the Wood River Valley, with a congratulatory talk with Smartís parents.

"I just finished giving Lois (Smart) a hug," he said in a phone interview. "After all this, it was great to see them in a big smile."

Interviews with Lyman played prominent roles in several national television stories on the kidnapping that aired over the weekend.

As captain of the Salt Lake City Police Departmentís Detective Division, Lyman helped investigate leads in the case. Smart, then 14, was abducted from her bedroom one night in June. In October, her 9-year-old sister told their parents that the man she saw in her and her sisterís bedroom that night resembled a man who had earlier done some work on their house. The man, who the Smarts had hired while he was panhandling, had gone by the name of Emmanuel.

Lyman said his department had discovered that Emmanuelís real name was Brian Mitchell, but had been unable to locate him. Relying on a photo of Mitchell they had seen on TV reports, two couples spotted him with Smart last week, walking on a street in Sandy, a Salt Lake City suburb.

In June, police had questioned two other men who had worked on the Smart house. One, Richard Albert Ricci, was considered the prime suspect. Ricci died of a brain hemorrhage in his jail cell in West Virginia after being arrested on an unrelated charge.

"I would have given you much better odds on Ricci," Lyman said.

He said he and other officers feared that Ricci may have taken the truth about Smartís kidnapping to the grave with him. However, he said, "nobody cared who or how, they just wanted to see her back. I canít tell you how happy I am to have heard the news."

Police have not provided an explanation of how Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee, were able to keep Smart from escaping during travels that took them to San Diego and back to Utah.

"Theyíre still sorting out whatís what," Lyman said.

Asked whether he may get bored working in a community that sees little serious crime, Lyman said that going back to Salt Lake City only confirmed his feeling that Ketchumís just the kind of place he wants to be.

The Wood River Valley does, however, have one open case of an apparently kidnapped child. Hailey resident Lily Thornton, then 4 years old, disappeared while visiting her half-brother, Forrest Snyder, in Eugene, Ore., in June 2001. Snyder and his brother, Eli Snyder, are suspects in the case.

In July, Forrest Snyder, pleaded guilty to felony interference with child custody for his role in the abduction. He was placed on probation with the condition that he help investigators find Lily.

Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney Jim Thomas said Forrest Snyder did provide information, but that it has not led to Lily.

"Itís an active investigation," Thomas said, "but quite frankly itís stale at this point."

 

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