Jefferson County bones identified

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 1, 2011

NATCHEZ — Skeletal remains found in the woods of Mississippi 33 in Jefferson County Friday have been identified as those of a missing woman.

Jefferson County Sheriff Peter Walker said the skeleton found at approximately 9 a.m. Friday appears to be that of former Brookhaven resident Virginia Ratliff.

“We are pretty certain it is her,” he said.

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Walker said Ratliff was reported missing Feb. 28, 2008, by the Brookhaven Police Department.

“There were numerous searches in and around the state to find her,” he said. “And there was never any luck in finding her.”

Walker said the land where Ratliff was found has just changed property owners, and the new owners quest to survey the land is what led to finding the skeleton.

“He called me and said while he was surveying his property he found a car in the woods on his land,” he said. “The numbers on the tag got reported wrong back to me, so when we searched the plates, nothing came out of the search.”

Walker said he sent an investigator to view the car Friday morning, and after getting the correct numbers on the car’s license plate, the connection to Ratliff was made.

“We knew right then that something was going on,” he said.

Walker said when his officers began to secure the area, they found a pair of tennis shoes, and that is where they found the skeleton.

“There was a skull close by to the shoes,” he said. “We got some crime labs and began investigating right there.”

Walker said the officers found identification and items that belonged to Ratliff during the search of the area.

While there still is no cause of death, Walker said he believes Ratliff got caught in the woods while she was trying to get on Mississippi 33.

“It appears that she was driving west on Mississippi 28,” he said. “There is a driveway that goes directly in the direction of where the car was located.”

Walker said she must have just kept driving, leaving her secluded and hard for anyone to spot.

Walker also said she was not far from the vehicle, and he does not know how long she was dead before she was found.