As I continue adding and updating pages on the Iowa Cold Cases website, I’m constantly amazed at the number of young women killed either on their way to work or after leaving work, and sometimes, even while still on the job. And while victimology studies and reports often help profilers and investigators track down offenders, a young woman alone — particularly at night — is still at risk of being targeted as easy prey for the determined perpetrator.

The brutal and senseless murder of any individual is always horrific, but each time these all too frequent anniversary dates come and go for so many of these young women’s unsolved crimes, I begin thinking about their fathers, their mothers; I have a twenty-something daughter myself and simply cannot imagine the sheer true grit they’ve been forced to summon and maintain.

Today I’m thinking about the families of Pamela Hinrichs of Clinton, Iowa, and Kimberly Ratliff of Council Bluffs.

Pam Hinrichs, 19, was shot 29 years ago during an apparent robbery of the AMVETS Post No. 28 at 1317 S. 17th Street in Clinton either late evening on January 12, 1981, or early morning Jan. 13. The cash register and a nearby safe were cleaned out, and there were no substantial leads, suspects or witnesses. Her case remains unsolved.

Kimberly RatliffEleven years ago today, Kimberly Ratliff, 22, was found in a car left in the People’s Natural Gas parking lot at 1414 West Broadway in Council Bluffs. Her throat had been slashed.

Ratliff worked at Airlite Plastics Co. in Omaha, Neb., and was last seen alive when she got off work about 11:30 p.m. on Jan. 8, 1999. She lived in Council Bluffs with her mother and stepfather, Joyce and Leslie Kennedy.

To this day, no witnesses have come forward and police have not charged anyone with the crime.

Not yet, anyway. But the times — they are a “changing” and law enforcement has a powerful ally in DNA’s growing technology and database.

Those responsible for the deaths of Pam and Kimberly and many others like them may run, but soon there will be nowhere to hide.

3 Responses to Two Young Women: Pam Hinrichs and Kimberly Ratliff

  1. jacque t ratliff says:

    jody im the father of kimberly .im jacque ratliffif you would like to inview me i would like that .ill answer any questions you put before me .i would like to tell my side of my daughter murder

  2. matthew ratliff says:

    Kimberly was my little sister and Leslie Kennedy our stepdad had his hands in her murder. It was because she was going to tell the police about him dealing drugs. He is a very dangerous man.

    • Jody Ewing says:

      Matthew, thank you so much for contacting us. I’ve been wanting to speak to you about your sister’s case but didn’t have your contact info. I’ll be sending you a separate message via regular e-mail.

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