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Exploring Iowa’s unsolved murders

Gone Cold: Officials believe drugs played role in Council Bluffs murder

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COUNCIL BLUFFS — Kimberly Ratliff's body was found in a car left Tuesday, Jan. 12, 1999, in the parking lot of People’s Natural Gas at 1414 West Broadway in Council Bluffs.

She had been viciously mutilated and nearly decapitated.

Ratliff, who worked at Airlite Plastics Co. in Omaha, was last seen alive when she got off work about 11:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 8.

Police believe Ratliff was killed elsewhere because little blood was found inside her car despite multiple wounds, and there also were indications someone else dressed her in different clothing — her own clothing — from what she’d been wearing when last seen alive.

Authorities also believed the vehicle had been parked in the lot over the weekend.

Officials quickly concluded Ratliff’s murder was not a random crime. The brutal killing was personal in nature, and it wasn’t long before they had a prime suspect.

Obstacles stood in the way of making an arrest, however. The majority of evidence would have been left at the crime scene where the killing took place, and that crime scene was not where her body was found.

Kim was raised by her mother and stepfather, Joyce and Les Kennedy, from age 6. The Kennedy’s allege that Kim had been hanging out with drug users and dealers.

Ratliff’s biological father, Jacque Ratliff, alleges that Les Kennedy was a possessive man and was responsible for Kim’s drug abuse. Kim’s brother believes that Les Kennedy had his hands in her murder because Kim was going to tell the police about Kennedy dealing drugs.

To this day, no witnesses have come forward and police have not been able to gather enough evidence to charge anyone with the crime.


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