Cold case in Morgan County gets new life with DNA evidence

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MORGAN COUNTY, Ind. –– They don’t have many murders in Morgan County, and the ones they record usually have a Marion County connection.

So, on the anniversary of the killing of Ronli Ratliff, whose body was found in a burning home south of Mooresville on April 15, 2004, Morgan County Sheriff Rich Myers is focused on what progress his cold case detectives have made in the six years they’ve spent reexamining the original investigation.

“It’s being worked on right now, and we’re gonna continue to work on it, and we’re not gonna give up on it,” said Myers. “There is evidence out there that is being submitted right now and we’re looking into.”

That evidence is DNA recovered from the crime scene on Dayhuff Road 17 years ago.

“Fifteen years ago, DNA was not where it is at today,” said Myers. “It has expanded leaps and bounds, so we’re looking at evidence that we think is very credible that hopefully is gonna lead us to somebody in this terrible situation.”

At White Lick Cemetery west of Mooresville, Kim Sink maintains a solo graveside vigil at Ratliff’s resting place every year on the date of her death.

“It’s pretty lonely, but it’s been pretty lonely for 17 years, but that’s okay,” said Aunt Kim. “Her and I got the same thing. She was kind of a lonely girl, too. But it’s been pretty hard because I can’t talk to anybody.”

Sink said she can’t talk to anybody about Ratliff’s death because, ironically, there are people in Morgan County who know why the young woman was killed in the sometimes-family house that she occasionally visited just to get some peace and quiet at night.

“She was not a runarounder,” said Sink. “My theory is she just went out there to escape whatever was going on in town.”

Sheriff Myers said whatever it was that Ratliff was trying to avoid back in town, the details were probably known then, and they’re remembered now.

“Not a lot of people in Mooresville, not a lot of people in Morgan County. It’s a small community. Everybody knows everybody around here,” he said. “They should be looking over their shoulder on April 15 and every day there beyond to know that we’re still working this case. We’ll be after them, and we’ll continue to work this case, and we’ll be following up all the leads and all the evidence.”

Meanwhile, Aunt Kim sits in a cool breeze in a rural back road cemetery, the sound of wind chimes echoing in the stillness, blowing up balloons and adjusting posters with pictures of her niece behind a gravestone.

“She knew who it was, and I know that I know who it is, and they know I know who it is because we’re in Mooresville, Indiana,” she said. “If somebody starts a conversation about Ronli, I make sure I raise my voice a little bit and talk a little bit loud about her.”

“You ever feel like quitting,” I asked her.

“No,” said Aunt Kim. “That’s not a word. And there’s no, ‘What if.’ We’ll get it taken care of. Do not say, ‘What if,’ because I cannot bring my mind to think that way.”

Aunt Kim’s voice waivered a bit as tears came to her eyes.

“They don’t forget it for a day because I don’t let anybody forget it for a day.”

If you know anything about the murder of Ratliff in Morgan County on April 15 of 2004, call Crimestoppers at (317) 262-TIPs.

Your information could be worth a $1,000 reward.

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