MOORESVILLE, Ind. (April 18, 2016)-- Most years, April 15 is tax deadline day in the United States, the date by which all taxpayers must give the government its due.
Since 2004, for a Mooresville family, April 15 has marked the day their niece and cousin was brutally slain in a killing that is still unsolved and has stumped investigators since the day they walked up on the murder scene.
Morgan County Sheriff Robert Downey established a Cold Case Squad one year ago and gave it one case to solve: the murder of Ronli Ratliff.
The unsolved slaying is the latest case to be profiled on “Indy’s Unsolved.”
“We have a box. We have access to everything that has been developed up until this time,” said Rich Witmer, the former police chief in Beech Grove who was sworn in as a reserve officer with the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department to work on the Ratliff investigation. “We still are uncovering evidence, we still sometimes get some tips we still follow up the best we can.”
Ratliff, 24, was found in her family’s home on Dayhuff Road. She wasn’t supposed to be there and it appears as if the killer set a fire to cover her murder.
“All the evidence points to that she died a violent death,” said Witmer. “She didn’t die as a result of the fire. She died before the fire.”
Darrell Brown was an arson investigator with the Mooresville Fire Department that day.
Twelve years later he’s retracing his steps and looking for new clues.
“It's bringing a whole lot of things to the surface,” said Brown. “Now with starting to look through the reports and see what’s here, now it's bringing a whole lot more of that, maybe I’m going to lose a whole lot of sleep more now than previously looking at this case.
“This is, I think, an opportunity for me to feel like maybe I’m getting a little piece of something back that I’ve not been able to accomplish in the past.”
Dan Riffel was on-duty as a detective in neighboring Martinsville the day of the fire.
“We see interviews that should’ve been taken a little bit farther. Different individuals that should’ve been maybe followed out a little bit more,” said Riffel. “We’ve conducted interviews with several already and some out of state we’ve located so we are still conducting interviews and we still are reviewing the case.”
Ratliff didn’t like what was going on around her and detectives think maybe that’s why she died.
“She had made some statements previously about some drug activity and the speculation at that time during the investigation was that those statements came back on her,” said Riffel. “At this point we don’t know the motive but I am sure it will come out eventually.”
The cold case investigators have the names of 40 witnesses to work with and a couple dozen pieces of evidence known only to the cops and the killer.
“There’s some individuals we haven’t reached out to yet,” said Riffel. “We’ve heard statements that they will not be happy with it being reopened.”
Each investigator believes the murder of Ronli Ratliff can be solved and the answers may very well be in the files they read and re-read everyday.
If you know anything about Ratliff’s killing, call the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department’s Cold Case Squad at 765-342-5544.