The widow of the man who police called their "top potential suspect" in the unsolved Elizabeth Smart kidnapping says authorities were investigating the wrong man.
Angela Ricci took her husband, Richard Albert Ricci, off of life support Friday night. He had suffered a massive brain hemorrhage Tuesday at the Utah State Prison, where he had been serving time on a parole violation. He never regained consciousness.
When Angela Ricci arrived at the hospital Tuesday night, she knew that her husband wasn't going to wake up.
"The minute I saw him, I just know what he looks like when he was asleep, and he was just gone," she said.
Ricci, 48, died about 12 minutes after life support machines were turned off. Angela Ricci said the stress of being under scrutiny in the Elizabeth Smart case contributed to his death."If he had been at home, I think this wouldn't have happened," she said.
Angela Ricci, 38, married Ricci on Valentine's Day after her brother introduced them.
Ricci, a parolee, told Angela that he wasn't going to return to his criminal ways, she said.
"We all have a past," she said, adding that she had not at all worried about introducing Ricci to her 11-year-old son.
She described her husband as a kind man who loved to cook and play the guitar. Ricci, who she called Rick, would often pack a sack lunch for her to take to her job as a receptionist, and would add a note saying "have a nice day, honey."
"I felt more safe with Rick than I've ever felt with anyone in my life," she said Monday.
Elizabeth's father, Ed Smart, had made several televised pleas for Ricci to cooperate with police. Ricci had worked as a handyman in the Smart's house and was accused of stealing items from their home.
After Ricci's death, the Smart family issued a statement expressing "heartfelt condolences" to his widow.
Ricci sympathized with the Smarts, Angela Ricci said. His 8-year-old son was killed by a drunk driver in 1985, she said. Ricci was in prison at the time and was unable to attend the funeral.
"Rick knew that hole in your heart. He just never would do that to another person," she said.
Elizabeth was kidnapped from her bedroom in the early morning of June 5. Her 9-year-old sister, Mary Katherine, was the only witness and told police a man with a gun took her sister.
Ricci was never charged with the abduction, but Salt Lake Police Chief Rick Dinse called him the top potential suspect in the case.
By C.G. Wallace © MMII The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.