Smart Handyman Seen Digging Holes Two Days After Abduction

A Salt Lake woman reportedly has said in an affidavit that her sister in Cheyenne, Wyo., saw Richard Ricci digging a fence line two days after the Elizabeth Smart abduction, in which Ricci is being investigated. 

Salt Lake television KTVX said Deann Newhouse indicated in the affidavit to police and the U.S. attorney that her sister saw Ricci in Cheyenne, had pictures of him in a tan golf-style cap similar to the one Elizabeth's sister said the kidnapper wore. 

Ricci's attorney, David K. Smith, was out of town and could not be reached for comment. Newhouse also could not immediately be reached. 

KTVX said Newhouse was a Ricci family friend and had testified before a grand jury. 

The report follows efforts earlier in the day by the Smart family to have a Wyoming woman who had sent them an e-mail about seeing Ricci to contact them again. 

The signed message, which was received and lost earlier this week, was from a woman who said that Ricci had built a fence for someone she knew near the Utah-Wyoming line, said Dave Smart, one of Elizabeth's uncles. 

Cheyenne is in eastern Wyoming — not near the Utah line. 

Police have named Ricci, 48, as a potential suspect in the 14-year-old girl's abduction. Ricci worked as a handyman last year for the Smart family. 

Investigators are trying to determine where Ricci might have driven his 1990 Jeep Cherokee between May 31 and June 8. Ricci's mechanic, who testified before a federal grand jury investigating Ricci, said Ricci dropped off the Jeep for servicing June 8. 

The Jeep was covered in dirt and bugs and the odometer indicated Ricci had driven 500 to 1,000 miles during that time, the mechanic said. 

The mechanic said that when Ricci brought the Jeep in, he stuffed some car-seat covers into one of two full plastic bags that he removed from the vehicle along with a post-hole digger. 

Dave Smart said Thursday that the e-mail in question was sent to the message center on the Web site 

A volunteer who screens the several hundred e-mails the site receives each day left the message on the computer screen when she went to tell someone about it. By the time she returned, someone had cleared the screen. The computer is used by several people at the volunteer search center. 

Smart said the Internet service provider tried the retrieve the message, resending as many as 900 e-mail messages to the site. But the message was not among them. 

"We can't search any more. We've done everything we can," Smart said during a morning news briefing. 

Police have been notified of the message, Smart said. A call to police Thursday was not immediately returned. 

Elizabeth Smart was taken from her bedroom at gunpoint in the middle of the night June 5. Her 9-year-old sister was the sole witness. 

Ricci, a career criminal, was indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury on three charges relating to the Nov. 2, 2001, armed robbery of a bank in Sandy, Utah. Federal prosecutors are seeking a "three-strikes" enhancement that would keep Ricci in prison for the rest of his life. 

On July 11, Ricci was charged with theft from the Smart home and theft and burglary of a nearby home. The crimes are alleged to have occurred last year. 

Ricci maintains he had nothing to do with Elizabeth Smart's abduction.