CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Ronald Ratliff hid under insulation in his ex-wife's attic so he could shoot her, according to authorities with Charleston County Sheriff's Office. The 41-year-old man who the coroner says later killed himself had a history of violence.
According to police records Ratliff had gotten out of jail on January 18th for assaulting his estranged wife, Melissity Hayes. He was ordered not to make contact with her and attend rehabilitation. A few days later authorities say he shot and killed his ex-wife's mother, 66-year-old Linda Hayes before leading authorities on a manhunt for several days before showing back up at Melissity's home where he was waiting for her to shoot her.
Sheriff's investigators say he shot Hayes in the shoulder and she was released from the hospital. Those who know Hayes says she took every step in getting away from the abusive marriage.
Hayes spent three years as volunteer for a local domestic violence support group, My Sister's House.
"She had done everything that I feel she could have done to protect herself, to get her divorce, to get her restraining order," said director of My Sister's House Elmire Raven. "I think she could have done everything she could based on her circumstances."
Raven says that if a perpetrator is determined to kill you, citing that domestic violence is an issue of control not of love, then he's going to be just as bent on accomplishing his goal as the victim is as accomplishing her goal to be safe.
Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon echoed that statement on Wednesday when he said Ratliff hid under insulation in the attic, just waiting to shoot his ex wife.
"This is something we would not have expected, but it's a reflection both of the intensity and the commitment that this had," Cannon said.
With an extensive rap sheet that along with charges of assault and domestic violence included charges for fraudulent checks and crack/cocaine possession, some question why Ratliff was even out of jail.
But Charlie Condon, former solicitor and state attorney general, says a longer jail sentence may not have changed the course of Ratliff's violent history.
"Regardless of what the charges would have been he would have been released eventually with the same conditions," Condon said. "So I don't know in hindsight. I'm not even sure a longer prison sentence would have deterred his motivation to kill her. Some could argue it might have even enhanced it."
Such is the reason why organizations like My Sister's House continue to reach out to abused women. They are provide both sanctuary as well as support groups. You can call 24/7 to their Crisis Line at (843) 744-3242.
Liza's Lifeline, another organization dedicated to helping victims of domestic violence, also helped Hayes pay for the hotel she was staying in while she was in protective custody.
Founder, Doug Warner said they can help victims in hours, if they need bus money or even a tow. Warner and his wife began the organization after their daughter, Liza Ellen Warner, was killed by her husband on October 1st, 2004. To contact Liza's Lifeline, call (843) 991-9085 or visit their website http://www.lizaslifelinesc.org/.