By Alissa Irei
Charleston, S.C. (WCIV) -- Investigators say Ronald David Ratliff was inside his ex-wife's home when he shot her Tuesday afternoon – while she was under police protection.
Police believe Ratliff killed his ex-mother-in-law Saturday, in the home of his ex-wife Melissity Hayes. He then fled. Hayes was allowed to return to the house Tuesday afternoon to plan her mother's funeral, when Ratliff allegedly shot her through an air conditioning vent.
"The decision of whether or not we should have posted people there is one we will agonize over and give a lot of thought to," said Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon.
Now a neighbor tells us she warned one of the officers guarding Hayes that Ratliff might be back.
Linda Weaver is a retired police officer who lives across the street from Hayes' home. She says she was taking care of the family's dog, when she noticed something was wrong.
"The french doors going from the sunroom to their dining room, kitchen area was open, and so I immediately backed away and called [Melissity]," Weaver said.
She says she also told police she had a gut feeling Ratliff might be hiding in the attic, and urged them to check it one more time.
"He had rebuilt and re-insulated the attic – worked on some heat ducts up there," she said. "He knew that attic really well. He knew where he could hide."
She said the officer didn't listen. She went home, but couldn't shake the feeling Ratliff was back.
"There was a part of me that wanted to put on my bullet proof vest I still have and a weapon I have and go down there and clear that attic myself," she said.
She stayed put, but later heard gunshots from the attic where police now say Ratliff had been hiding all along.
Authorities say they don't know how long Ratliff was hiding in that attic. But they say they found food, leading them to believe he had been there for some time.