Elizabeth Ratliff

Elizabeth McKee was born in 1942 and reared with two sisters on a farm on Rhode Island. A serious, artistic child, she played an acoustic guitar, sang and spoke French and German.

For 17 years Elizabeth, known as "Liz," taught elementary school at a school for the children of military families at the Rhein-Main Air Base in Frankfurt, Germany where she met Captain George Ratliff, an Air Force navigator. They married in 1981. Their daughter Margaret was born that same year, and two years later, their second daughter, Martha, was born.

Although the circumstances are unclear, George Ratliff died from a heart attack while taking part in a secret military operation during the Invasion of Grenada in 1983.

Liz Ratliff also died under mysterious circumstances on November 25, 1985 when she was found at the bottom of a staircase in her house in Weiterstadt-Graefenhausen, surrounded by pools of blood. An autopsy at the time of her death concluded she had died from an intra-cerebral haemorrhage secondary to the blood coagulation disorder Von Willebrand's disease. The coroner determined that the haemorrhage resulted in immediate death followed by Ratliff falling down the stairs after collapsing. Margaret and Martha were then raised by close friends of the family, Michael and Patricia Peterson, but were never adopted by them.

In 2001 Michael Peterson, a writer, was arrested for the murder of his second wife, Kathleen Peterson, who was found dead at the bottom of a staircase.

In connection with that trial, the North Carolina medical examiner's office had Elizabeth Ratliff's body exhumed from a Texas grave in 2003. The new autopsy report stated that Liz Ratliff had been murdered, and gave the cause of her death as blunt force trauma to the head. Although Peterson was never accused or charged in relation to Ratliff's death this report, by the same examiner who had conducted Kathleen Peterson's autopsy, played a significant part in the trial, and the admission of it as Similar fact evidence formed the basis of Peterson's subsequent appeal.

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death" class="article_title_2">Michael Peterson (author) - Murder Trial - Suspicion Surrounding Elizabeth Ratliff's Death
... Elizabeth Ratliff, who died in Germany in 1985, was also found at the foot of her staircase with injuries to the head ... that the haemorrhage resulted in immediate death followed by Ratliff falling down the stairs after collapsing ... Ratliff and her daughters had gone to the Petersons' home the previous night to have dinner with them and Peterson had driven them home and helped Ratliff put the children to bed ...