Local News

Members Of Prosecution In Mike Peterson Trial Arrive In Germany

Posted June 19, 2003

— Prosecutors in the Mike Peterson murder trial arrived in Germany Wednesday to figure out if Peterson was involved in another death that is very similar to the death of his wife.

Prosecutors Freda Black and David Saacks, along with Detective Art Holland, are investigating the death of Mike Peterson's friend, Elizabeth Ratliff. Ratliff died in Germany in 1985 in Grafenhausen, which is miles away from Frankfurt.

Ratliff was found dead at the bottom of the staircase. Her death is similar to that of Peterson's wife, Kathleen, who was also found dead at the bottom of the staircase at the couple's Durham home in December 2001. Peterson is charged in his wife's death.

Ratliff's original autopsy stated that she died of a brain hemorrage from her fall, but a second autopsy conducted in April stated that she was murdered. Prosecutors hope to interview Karen Ham, Ratliff's old neighbor in Germany. Ham has told several people that on the night of Ratliff's death, she saw Mike Peterson leaving Ratliff's home in a hurry and going to his house.

In addition to Ham, members of the prosecution also want to talk with German authorities about any police records if they exist. Since foul play was not originally suspected in Ratliff's death, those records may have been destroyed.

Depending on what the prosecution finds in Germany, witnesses in Germany may be asked to testify in Durham for the trial.

The team of prosecutors will return to the Triangle Sunday. Jury selection will resume Monday.


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