Kate Ragsdale Murder: One Year Later

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT)- On the one-year, February 24th anniversary of the murder of Kate Ragsdale, investigators say they are closing in on her killer.  Ragsdale, a 73-year-old mother, community activist, and retired University of Alabama librarian was found dead in her home by a neighbor.  Ragsdale lived in The Highlands, an upscale historic neighborhood in Tuscaloosa.  Investigators say the cause of her death was “sharp force injury.”

Over the past year, Ragsdale’s murder has been a top priority for the Tuscaloosa Metro Homicide Unit.  “At no point has this case ever gone cold, or has this been considered a cold case.” explains unit commander, Sargent Dale Phillips.  Phillips says they have received a tremendous response from the community with information.  Investigators have been able to eliminate a large percentage of their original list of possible suspects.  Now, they are focusing on a very small number of individuals who they believe have direct knowledge of Ragsdale’s murder.

“We had a tremendous amount of information and a tremendous amount of evidence,” says Phillips, “and we are moving forward.  This is a complex case.  This is not something that you move quickly on.  We’re to the point now that every move that we make in this investigation has to be calculated.”

The Tuscaloosa Metro Homicide is currently waiting for additional results from a variety of forensic science analyses which have been requested in the case.  “We’re employing new tests,” says Phillips.  “We’re using some ground-breaking technology that’s been used in other cases, and I feel that we’re really making progress at this time.”

In 2013, homicide investigators released a profile of a possible suspect that was developed with the assistance of retired FBI profiler, Charles Dorsey.  They are standing by that profile.  “We believe this is someone that knew Ms. Ragsdale,” says Phillips, “someone that possibly knew her very well, and that they were in her home for a specific reason.”  Investigators say Ragsdale’s killer was also very unorganized, and that it’s possible the suspect may not have come into her residence with a plan to kill her.  They still believe their suspect is in the Tuscaloosa area, and at one time, was able to walk to Ragsdale’s home.

Investigators explain, this type of homicide is extremely unusual for the Tuscaloosa area.  They describe Ragsdale as being a low-risk victim.  “For so long, we’ve collected the pieces of the puzzle,” explains Phillips.  “We’ve got them on the table, now.  We’re starting to put those pieces together.”

They still believe there are people out there who have information that could assist with the investigation.  They are continuing to reach out to the community and to the suspect.  “I want you to know that we’re not going to give up on this,” Phillips says, when asked about a message to Ragsdale’s killer.  “This is not going away.  We are making progress every day, and we will bring this to a conclusion.”

A $20,000 reward for information in this case that could lead to an arrest still stands.  If you have information, contact 205-464-8692.

Related: Still no arrests in death of retired UA librarian

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