Local News

Elizabeth Ratliff's Friend Continues Emotional Testimony During Day 31 Of Mike Peterson Trial

Posted August 21, 2003
Updated December 9, 2006

— The state's blood spatter expert faced more questions Wednesday about his analysis of Kathleen Peterson's murder. Meanwhile, the death of Mike Peterson's friend is getting close attention.

Jurors listened as SBI agent Peter Duane Deaver spent another day defending his findings. At the SBI lab, Deaver conducted several experiments to determine what led to certain blood patterns in the Peterson mansion stairwell and on Mike Peterson's clothes. He believes Kathleen Peterson was beaten to death.

Defense attorney David Rudolf suggested Deaver's tests were not thorough or accurate.

Once the jury left for the day, testimony turned to a death scene from 18 years ago in Germany. Elizabeth Ratliff, Mike Peterson's friend, was found dead at the bottom of a staircase. The prosecution is trying to prove facts about her death are similiar to the death of Kathleen Peterson and are, therefore, relevant to the trial.

Cheryl Appel-Schumacher, Ratliff's friend, described the scene at Ratliff's house the night of her death. She said she cleaned blood off the walls and the floor and said the amount of blood surprised her and others.

Rosemary Kelloway, Elizabeth Ratliff's sister, said she traveled hundreds of miles to be in Durham and said she is looking for justice.

"I feel like I'm on a mission for justice -- for Kathleen as well as my sister," she said. "I believe if it wasn't for Mike Peterson, my sister would be here today. He lied to us. He kept the truth from us. He manipulated, he controlled and he lied."

Kelloway said her family became suspicious after Kathleen Peterson's death.

"After all of these years, finding out that the blood scene was just like Kathleen's," she said.

Those suspicions now divide the Ratliff family. Margaret and Martha Ratliff, Elizabeth Ratliff's children, were raised afterward by Mike Peterson and support him. Today, they refuse to speak to their aunt.

"Even though they don't believe that we're doing the right thing. We believe that we are," Kelloway said.

Elizabeth Ratliff's other sister, Margaret Blair, will testify at the hearing Thursday. Judge Orlando Hudson could decide by Thursday afternoon if the jury should hear about Ratliff's death.

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