Frank James Harvey says that spending 10 months as a prisoner in Utah for a kidnapping he did not commit has ruined his life and his parents' lives.
"Even though I'm cleared, I don't feel like I've been cleared. A lot of people still think I am guilty. I can't get good work just because of my name alone. This all made my dad have three heart attacks, and made my parents spend their life savings," he said in a telephone interview from a friend's house."All I want to do now is earn enough money so I can leave this place and go where no one knows who I am."
All charges were dropped this week against Harvey, 46, for the March 27, 1987, kidnapping of Tori Healey, then 6, from a middle school in Garland, Box Elder County. Meanwhile, Box Elder County this week charged Thomas C. Headley, 31, Snowville, with the crime. The girl identified Headley in a police lineup.
Both men drove blue, four-door cars and own dachshund-type dogs. Tori Healey said she was kidnapped by a man who smoked a lot, had a brown "wiener dog" and drove a blue, four-door car. Harvey was originally arrested for the crime at a Brigham City rest stop shortly after he had filed a complaint with Tremonton police about a hitchhiker who he said had been violent with him.
The Healey girl was unable to positively identify Harvey in court, but a jury convicted him on the circumstantial evidence. He was sentenced to 16 years in the Utah State Prison and spent 10 months in the prison and the Box Elder County Jail.
He was released Jan. 8 on his own recognizance after he had been granted a new trial. He has since been living in Washington.
The news that all charges against him in Utah were finally dropped this week did not ease the bitterness he feels toward Utah officials.
"I plan on finding an attorney and filing charges against some of them. They don't deserve to be public servants," he said.
"They covered up the color of my dog and didn't let the little girl see it in court. My dog is black and tan, and I understand the other fellow's is a reddish brown - the color of dog she said the kidnapper had."
He added that he hadn't owned a button-down shirt for years or a vest, which he said the girl claimed the kidnapper wore. "They purposefully tried to convict me even though they figured they had the wrong man," Harvey claimed. "Meanwhile, they let the real kidnapper go and maybe do it to someone else's child."
Harvey said, however, that currently he doesn't even have enough money to travel back to Utah to try to find a lawyer and file a wrongful arrest suit.
Since he was released earlier this year, Harvey said he has driven 2,500 miles in search of work. "People won't hire me. The news got up here about the charges against me." Harvey travels around looking for work in landscaping, cooking, welding and other odd jobs. He was in Utah looking for such work when he was originally arrested.
He said that after his arrest in Utah, his name was especially muddied when officials implicated him in kidnappings in other areas he had worked, such as Arizona and Washington. "They hoped I couldn't prove where I was." He said he was not charged in those cases because he either passed lie detector tests or could prove he was out of the areas where kidnappings had occurred.
Also while he was imprisoned, some other inmates harassed him because he was convicted of kidnapping a child. "I came close to not living about four times."
He said it was worst when he was held in the Box Elder County Jail. "All the prisoners rode me and threatened me. The police let the guys do it. I didn't have as much trouble in the state prison."
Harvey said his dog also suffered. "They wouldn't let my parents take her home until after about five months. By then, she was just skin and bones and was filthy. She was jet black on her stomach. She still wheezes. She has marks on her ears like they put something like electrodes in them."
Harvey concluded, "You can't blame me for feeling the way I do. My life's a mess because of this sick mess they threw on my head."