Authorities have arrested the stepbrother of a Council Bluffs woman who was found dead 21 years ago in the front seat of her vehicle, her throat slashed.
Matt Kennedy, 52, has been charged with first-degree murder in an arrest warrant. He lives in Fairfield, Montana, and is being held there at the Teton County Jail, awaiting extradition to Iowa.
Council Bluffs police allege that Kennedy killed his stepsister, Kimberly M. Ratliff, 22. She was found dead Jan. 12, 1999, inside a car in the parking lot at the former People’s Natural Gas near 14th Street and West Broadway.
Investigators have said they don’t think Ratliff was killed at that spot; rather, they say her body was moved there later. She had other cuts on her body and there was little blood inside the car.
She last was seen alive four days earlier. In 2016, Council Bluffs Sgt. Chad Meyers said detectives didn’t have evidence to point to a definitive day she was killed.
In 1999, Ratliff lived with her mother and stepfather, Joyce and Les Kennedy. Ratliff, her mother and Matt Kennedy all worked at Airlite Plastics Co. in Omaha.
Les Kennedy had been highly critical of the police investigation and offered a reward for information, which he publicized on a sign outside his tire repair shop.
He had said he conducted his own investigation, gave information to a vigilante group and was “quite comfortable that the situation will be taken care of.”
Police at the time said they had “strong suspicions” on who killed Ratliff but didn’t have enough proof to make an arrest. They said they didn’t think the killer was a stranger to Ratliff.
It’s unclear what new evidence has secured an arrest, but Meyers said in 2016 that DNA technology was improving every year and could analyze smaller and smaller samples.