RACINE — A 7-year-old Racine girl is safe after being abducted by five people Tuesday morning.
According to the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office, deputies received a call at 8:42 a.m. Tuesday from Chad Ratcliff, who said his daughter had just been abducted from his home at 49510 Eagle Ridge Road in Racine. Ratcliff reportedly told police that the babysitter watching the girl at the time told him that one of the abductors was Chad Ratcliff’s estranged wife, Stacey Ratcliff.
Stacey Ratcliff and another unidentified African American man allegedly abducted the child and fled in a blue Dodge Durango with North Carolina license plates. Deputies said the babysitter attempted to stop the vehicle by jumping on the hood and was struck in the head with a pistol possessed by the unidentified man who aided in the abduction.
After receiving the call from Chad Ratcliff, deputies launched an Amber Alert. Ohio State Patrol, Pomeroy police, Ravenswood, W.Va., police, the Jackson County (W.Va.) Sheriff’s Office and West Virginia State Police responded toward the Ravenswood Bridge and Interstate 77 in an attempt to find the blue Dodge Durango.
The Meigs County Sheriff’s Office received a call from West Virginia authorities at 9:23 a.m., informing them that the suspect vehicle had been found at a Walmart store in Ripley, W.Va. West Virginia authorities also told Meigs authorities that the juvenile was found and that two males and three females were being detained.
Stacey Ratcliff, 30, of Salisbury, N.C.; Johnny Miller, 24, from Salisbury; Maleah Leppanen, 30, from Salisbury; Travis Halcomb, 30, from Dallas, N.C.; and Mary Livengood, 26, from Salisbury, were all taken into custody on charges of aggravated burglary and kidnapping.
Ratcliff picked up his daughter in Ripley. Officials had the blue Dodge Durango impounded and towed from the scene. All of the suspects will be incarcerated in West Virginia until they are extradited to Ohio to answer to any future criminal charges that will be pressed against them.
“The cooperation of agencies working together and the communications enabled us to get the word out to other departments and let them know what’s happened,” Meigs County Sheriff Keith Wood said. “It was all kind of chaos when it first happened, trying to figure out which way the vehicle went and who saw it, (but) we got the Amber Alert initiated and I think just those tools that we have to communicate and talk with each other across the lines is a big thing.
“The West Virginia State Police troopers went into the Ripley parking lot at Walmart and spotted the vehicle, and that was kind of the key that unlocked the door,” Wood added. “I mean, there they were … sitting there. Thank goodness for the safety of the little girl.”
Wood said information on charges against the five will be made available in the coming days.
Reach Lindsay Kriz at 740-992-2155 EXT. 2555.