Dad held after ‘Amber Alert’ is issued

Mark Shaffer
Arizona Republic – Flagstaff Bureau
Nov. 26, 2003 12:00 AM

FLAGSTAFF – A Flagstaff man who triggered a statewide “Amber Alert” after
beating his wife and leaving the scene with his 2-year-old son was
captured without incident shortly after noon Tuesday, police said.

Richard Leroy Ratcliff, 38, was taken into custody after Flagstaff police
were tipped that he was staying with his son at the home of a cousin in
the southern part of the city, police Sgt. Gerry Blair said.

Ratcliff was arrested on warrants of aggravated assault and aggravated
domestic violence, Blair said.

The sergeant said the alert was triggered because Ratcliff’s wife told
police he had threatened to commit suicide or have a shootout with
police, that alcohol was involved and that it followed an altercation.
Blair also said there were fears that Ratcliff might try to take the
child to California or Oregon.

The incident began at 7:25 p.m. Monday when Ratcliff and his wife
quarreled in the parking lot of a convenience store and Ratcliff struck
her repeatedly in the head and face with a beer bottle, Blair said.

Relatives of Ratcliff in California and Oregon initially told police that
they believed he was coming their way. But police received a call at 11
a.m. Tuesday from a relative in Oregon saying that Ratcliff had just
called him and that he had remained in Flagstaff. The relative then
provided police with an address.

“The thinking is that all the media pressure throughout the state made
him stay close to home,” Blair said.

According to Coconino County court records, Ratcliff also was charged
with aggravated assault, aggravated domestic violence and unlawful
imprisonment in September and has had multiple convictions for driving
under the influence.

He also was convicted of criminal damage in 2001 and disorderly conduct
in 1999.

Reach the reporter at or (602) 444-8057.

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