February 24 marks one year since police found 74-year-old Kate Ragsdale dead inside her home in The Highlands, an upscale neighborhood right in the heart of Tuscaloosa. No arrests have been made in the past year, but investigators believe they are moving closer to their suspect.
Ragsdale was a former libarian at the University of Alabama and worked for UA from 1979 until her retirement in 2006. She was a mother of two.
Ragsdale's death is the only unsolved homicide in Tuscaloosa from 2013. Authorities say she was stabbed to death, and had likely been dead for several days before her body was discovered by a neighbor who went inside her home to check on her after noticing her newspapers had piled up on her front lawn.
"We have been able to take a large number of possible people that were involved or who have direct information, and we have reduced that number down to a small number of people, who we feel still have direct information or knowledge about this case," Tuscaloosa Metro Homicide Unit Commander Sgt. Dale Phillips said.
"Those are the individuals that we are centering on and targeting our investigation on at this time," Phillips added.
Investigators are also making a new plea to the public for anyone who had any contact with Kate Ragsdale in the two weeks prior to February 24, 2013, to contact them. Phillips would like people to contact him directly by calling (205) 464-8692.
Over the past year, investigators have collected minute details about the life of Kate Ragsdale, as well as crime scene data and surveillance video from around Ragsdale's home. Investigators say technology developed over the past year is providing them some new advantages when it comes to items recovered from the scene.
"Over the past year, there's been new groundbreaking technology that is allowing us to further analyze some of the results we already had. Some of the items we would have not been able to test we are now able to," Sgt. Phillips said.
Some of the other tactics investigators have used include putting cameras in the drains of Ragsdale's home, in case evidence was disposed of there. The Homicide Unit has also obtained cell phone information that could be valuable to the case.
"We have petitioned the court and we have received what is known as a cell tower dump of information to preserve any information from that time span that this incident occurred," Phillips said.
Investigators can cross reference that information with information regarding a possible suspect.
Investigators say they also believe a suspect profile they released shortly after the crime occurred, is likely an accurate description of the person they're looking for. That profile described the possible suspect as someone who knew Kate Ragsdale, was highly familiar with the area near her home, targeted Ragsdale as a victim, but didn't plan the crime in detail.
For these reasons, they believe someone close holds the information they need.
"I want to hear from everyone that has information, even if you feel like it's already been reported, or even if you think it doesn't matter," Sgt. Phillips said. "I want to hear from everyone who thinks they may know something about this horrendous incident."
There is a total reward of $20,000 for information that leads to the arrest of Ragsdale's killer. The Governor's Office is offering a $5,000 reward and people in Ragsdale's neighborhood association offered a $15,000 reward in the case.
To submit a tip about the case, visit the Tuscaloosa Police Department's Facebook page, email the Homicide Unit directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or call them at 205-464-8690. You can also call in an anonymous tip to Crimestoppers at 205-752-STOP.
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