KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Investigators searched a property Tuesday in connection to the killing of a Kalamazoo man.
The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety confirmed Tuesday that its investigation of Nate Ratliff’s 2016 disappearance has been considered a homicide investigation for years. It was originally reported as a missing person case.
According to Kalamazoo Silent Observer, Ratliff, who was born in 1994, disappeared in October of 2016, leaving behind his cellphone, wallet and keys. He was last seen at his home, located on the 3700 block of South Park Street, near its intersection with Pierce Avenue.
“We’re continuing an investigation that began several years ago,” Capt. Rafael Diaz, who leads KDPS’ Criminal Investigation Division, told News 8. “We’ve determined through investigation that we believe this to be a homicide. … We believe that he’s dead and his manner of death was that he was killed.”
Investigators said they first secured at a property on the 3700 block of South Park Street on Monday night and their search continued Tuesday.
“We have new information that, coupled with our old information, was used to secure a warrant for today,” Diaz said Tuesday.
“Memory is difficult, memories change over time,” Diaz added. “New information can maybe change a thought or perspective and then with the passage of time, new information can come to light and we don’t know, right? So some of our investigations are very quick. They can be hours and you may have someone in custody or they may be years and you’re still trying to figure out what happened.”
A ground-penetrating radar, among other pieces of equipment, was used. News 8 saw some digging happening in the yard. Diaz said investigators wanted to leave “no stone unturned.”
“It allows us to check areas we might not otherwise be able to check,” Diaz said. “We just want to make sure that if there is something here, that we’re able to find it.”
Diaz said investigators secured the house Monday night and were continuing Tuesday with “a very slow, methodical, detailed approach.”
“We just want to make sure we get it right, and so we’re going to take our time and be diligent,” Diaz said. “We could be here ’til (Wednesday).”
No arrests were made Tuesday, according to KDPS. When night fell, police brought in lights but eventually said their search was complete.
“I am shocked, actually. If it is what I think it is,” said Brad Allison, a neighbor.
Allison has lived in the home across the street for over a decade. He said it was a man and his girlfriend who lived in the home that was searched, but the girlfriend eventually moved out.
However, he also said they weren’t the only ones living in the home — Ratliff lived there too.
“When I saw the news story about the kid, I’ve met him a few times in passing, years ago when he would ride around, play around, just in passing I met him,” said Allison.
Anyone with information can contact KDPS at 269.337.8139 or Silent Observer at 269.343.2100.
— News 8’s Kyle Mitchell and Taylor Morris contributed to this report.