Council Bluffs cold case trial gets underway

A Council Bluffs family has been waiting decades for justice in the murder of their daughter.
Published: Aug. 12, 2021 at 8:02 PM CDT
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COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (WOWT) - A Council Bluffs family has been waiting decades for justice. After 22 years, the trial of a man accused of murdering 22-year-old Kimberly Ratliff is underway.

At the time, her family pleaded for answers.

“This person or persons denied our daughter the true joys of life by ruthlessly slaughtering her beyond recognition.”

For the first time since 1999, Ratliff’s family is seeing justice as her suspected killer faces a jury in Pottawattamie County District Court on Thursday — and it’s a family member who stands accused.

Matt Kennedy is the victim’s stepbrother. Investigators tracked him down in Montana last fall, where he had been living for several years. Detectives said it was DNA that led them to the arrest.

In 1999, no one knew Ratliff’s whereabouts for several days. She had last been seen leaving her job in Omaha.

Ahmann, a Council Bluffs paramedic at the time, was first on the scene when her car was found on West Broadway.

The door was locked. He broke out the car window.

Her throat had been slashed.

Ahmann told jurors on Thursday that it appeared she had been killed somewhere else and then placed in the passenger seat of her own car.

“There was no blood noticeable in the vehicle... no pooling of blood. Her clothes were not soaked in blood her hair was not soaked in blood,” he said in court.

The first-responder also said it appeared the killer may have tried to dress her, with her jeans 6-8 inches below her waist.

“So it looked like somebody had trouble getting them back on,” he said. “The buttons were undone, and the zipper was halfway up. Her clothes appeared to be not soiled from blood.”

Jury selection began Wednesday.

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