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COLD CASE ARREST: Stepbrother accused in horrific 1999 murder of 22-year-old Kimberly Ratliff

KETV Omaha logo KETV Omaha 10/17/2020
a person standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera: Ratliff, Kennedy © File, police Ratliff, Kennedy

Council Bluffs police have requested and were granted an arrest warrant in a 1999 cold case murder.

On the morning of Jan. 12, 1999, Kimberly Ratliff’s deceased body was discovered inside her vehicle, which had been abandoned in the 1400 block of West Broadway. Ratliff was 22 at the time of her death.

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Kimberly's stepbrother, Matt W. Kennedy, has been accused of first-degree murder.

Kennedy is now a 52-year-old resident of Fairfield, Montana, but he was living in Council Bluffs at the time of the murder.

Kennedy was taken into custody and is being held in the Teton County Jail, pending extradition to Iowa.

Police say no further information will be released regarding Kennedy’s arrest until he is back in Iowa and the arrest warrant can be formally served to him.

Police say Ratliff was found mutilated and her throat slit so severely, she was nearly decapitated. Authorities determined she was likely killed elsewhere because there was little blood in her car.

Her clothes had also been changed.

Ratliff, who worked at Airlite Plastics Co. in Omaha, was last seen alive when she got off work just before midnight on Jan. 8.

One year after the murder, police told KETV they had a suspect, but not enough information to make an arrest.

Ratliff's parents, Joyce and Leslie “Les” Kennedy, said they were frustrated that no arrest had been made.

"I think about her every day, I think about her every night," Joyce said.

"There is sufficient information, in my particular opinion, if it was laid before the grand jury, multiple indictments would be coming down," Les said. "Against a killer and conspirators."

Detective Dean Sharp, Council Bluffs Police Department, explained why he was hesitant to make an arrest.

"I personally don't want to make an arrest unless I can make a conviction," he said.

Joyce said she feared, "they're letting this murderer go by so he can do it again."

Les said he is confident an arrest will eventually come.

"This individual is not going to get away with what he's done. Justice is going to be served," he said.

According to the Des Moines Register, Les and Joyce Kennedy claimed that Kim had been hanging out with drug users and dealers. However, Ratliff’s biological father, Jacque Ratliff, said that Les Kennedy was possessive and responsible for Kim’s drug abuse.

This is a developing story, stay with KETV for more.

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