In our previous post, we discussed the early January deaths of gun supporters John Noveske and Keith Ratliff, and the claims made by some on the far right that these deaths were the handiwork of "Death Squads" from the TSA and Department of Homeland Security. JOTB has uncovered some interesting details about Keith Ratliff's life, which may shed some new light on this theory.
According to media reports, Ratliff (creator of a popular pro-gun YouTube channel), was found dead in rural upstate Georgia. He died as a result of a single gunshot wound to the head, and his body was found at his place of employment. Police ruled his death a homicide, and his body was quickly skirted away to the Georgia Bureau of Investigations crime lab in Atlanta- which is also the home of a major Department of Homeland Security "Fusion Center".
Ratliff, an avid video game enthusiast, was the owner of FPS Industries, a company which customizes weapons (in video game lingo, FPS stands for "first person shooter"). According to the company's Facebook page, FPS Industries is "a type 10 Destructive Device Manufacturer and Viral Marketing superpower on YouTube and Facebook".
Due to Ratliff's cult status as a proponent of assault weapons (and ultra-violent video games), he is now viewed as a martyr to some on the far right. He was killed just days after Oregon gunsmith John Noveske, who died in a car accident on January 4. According to numerous far right blogs, these two deaths were allegedly carried out by the federal government, under the provisions of the highly-controversial National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
However, we've been able to piece together a composite of this right-wing martyr's life based on statements made after his death by people who knew him best- his friends, relatives, and co-workers.
On a local message board, very revealing comments were made by those who live in an area in which everyone knows everyone else, and these comments paint Ratliff as something less than a redneck Robin Hood. But before we address those comments, here are some which were posted by other locals, showing just how close-knit this community is:
"Praying for his family. They are wonderful people and his grandmother is a wonderful lady" (1/6/13)
"Well seems odd that my mom works with his ppl and heard nothing? This is the only radio station that anyone can post on. Stop the rumors. This is upsetting his ppl." (1/6/13)
"I am friends with his sister....I am not sure what your problem is, but this man is deceased. It is being investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, so that is why there aren't a lot of details just yet. The family is no talking a lot about it right now as you can imagine, they are devastated." (1/6/13)
"i know his grandmother and she confirmed to me that it did happen and they are waiting on autopsy report from the police and they are still investigating it. " (1/6/13)
"Keiths girlfriend told him to get a divorce or she couldnt go on with their relationship. He wanted a divorce but he would have to sue to get it. His girlfriend gave him until jan 1st or she was out of his life." (1/8/13)
"Keith Ratliff was my husband & the father of our 2 year old son. If anyone would like to get into touch with me they can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org" (1/8/13)
And on and on it goes, nearly 200 comments made by local residents who've met Keith Ratliff and members of his family. However, among the numerous message board posts lies information which seems to debunk the rumor that the federal government played a part in Ratliff's demise, such as this comment made by a former associate:
"Those mourning his loss probably hadn't done business with him. I imagine it was a hit by someone he defrauded, or attempted to defraud. Why people like him take the huge risk of screwing professional weapons manufacturers & operators, I'll never know." (1/6/13)
or this comment by another local:
"When you screw people over as much as he did it comes back on you, I'm with the person above, I'm sure its was just one of the king lust of people he has ripped off in the past. Sorry the family has to go through so much pain from his shady actions" (1/6/13)
"I am asking you all to stop, if you have nothing good to say then don't say anything at all!! Everyone makes mistakes and no one is perfect. I shared a life with this man and this is a very bad situation. Please have respect for his family and friends and stop this!" (1/6/13)
As you can see by the above comment, even someone who shared a life with Keith Ratliff seems to be unable to defend the self-described "destructive device manufacturer" without implicating that he as made quite a few mistakes in his life.
"You mean the wife that he was divorcing and that wouldn't let him see his child?????? Let this family mourn in peace" (1/6/13)
"Unfortunately this man had made a lot of enemies in the time he was alive by defrauding people, scamming people, and other ways as well. But at the same time I don't believe that he was a 100% horrible person but one who made some very very bad decisions and choices in his life." (by Wildcat Fan, 1/7/13)
"I don't think anyone who really knew him needs names of people he defrauded to know it was true. The man mad a life time living of cheating people out of there money to fund his next "business" deal. No one should die the way he did, but when you play with fire your get burned." (by Ken, 1/7/13)
"Thank god he got what was coming to him sooner rather than later! My condolences to his family. Even though he had shady business practices he was still someones son, brother,dad." (by Karma, 1/7/13)
"Keith always had a finger on the trigger, and a gun on him...hard to believe he walked in or was walked in on off guard..I've known him for years..I think someone was invited in and caught him off guard...if it was a robbery, they would have taken all the guns he had. And he had alot, he was part owner in a business that built guns..Legit ones, It is true that he did some shady sh*t, but it doesn't take away from the fact, a 32 yo father was murdered. someone we all knew, like him or not." (by Right, 1/7/13)
"How many men did you call in for Jayden's DNA test I have heard 11? Still slinging hash at Dennys and turning tricks in Flying J's truck Lot? You made him miserable. Although in your defense he was quite hard on women, but he would have forsaken all women for you, and Jayden. You couldn't comply with his needs, so he couldn't comply with yours. Where were you and Syd last week???" (by Ya Know, 1/8/13)
"This sight is nothing but trash talkers! All I'm trying to do is get my husband & sons fathers story told. All of what you just wrote is a lie! I've only got one judge & it's god! I knew Keith for 10 years! I'm at the point that I don't care as to what you nor anyone else has to say negative about me & my son as far as him crying during an interview if you must know he was scared of the camera!!! I'm doing everything I should be doing, justice to be done for Keith! I'm not seeking any kind of attention nor hand outs!!! God bless your black cold heart!" (Amanda Ratliff, 1/8/13)
"Why would you call yourself his wife when you were in the middle of a divorce? Because you're not only an attention wh**e but a flat wh**e as well. We tried to tell him you can't turn a hoe into a house wife." (by Informed, 1/8/13)
"Wasnt keith convicted of 3 counts of 2nd or 3rd degree sexual assault around 2001?" (by Freddy, 1/9/13)
"You are correct. It was 3rd degree sexual assault I believe. The charges were filed by former employees of the fruit market that used to be on Nicholasville Rd near the car wash." (1/13/13)
And from here, the locals steer the conversation from Keith Ratliff's dirty dealmaking to a veritable white trash saga filled with domestic abuse, paternity tests, incest, and mutual infidelity. And, don't forget, these are the people who knew the Ratliffs best, like Keith's cousin Katie:
"Can ppl.plz give my family a break and let my cousin be laid to rest in peace? F*ck all the he said she said bullshit its about keith right now. Regardless of how he was or what ppl think of him hes still human and he didnt deserve this. Plz just let there be peace. Im pretty sure were adults so act like it. As far as hands out there wont be his personal belongings are took care of. Material things are replacable his life isnt. Plz pray for justice to be served. Thank you." (1/9/13)
"Btw his truck has a lien with my name on it" (1/9/13)
"Wait, didn't he have like 2 other kids? The son with a chick from Liberty who should be about 12 now, and a kid with the girl he was supposedly in Guam with; who coincidentally is the same girl who was also doing his daddy so he would pay her way through college." (by Relieved, 1/14/13)
"Someone said they wanted an example of his malefactions, so I have one for ya. He would sell "items" on eBay to people, get their money, close the account, then start new ones & do the same thing to more people." (by Relieved, 1/14/13)
"I am relieved this low life is gone. Especially since he has stalked me for the past 12 years. I can't say I didn't wish for his death every day I didn't think about him. Rot in hell, loser!" (by Relieved, 1/14/13)
"Give some examples- if u care too- I believe u.. He contacted me- numerous amounts of times- trying to get me to meet him. The initial contact beginning and ending on an online dating site. I did not ever meet him. Chatted online bruefly,few times- ended up knowing a few of the same ppl, distantly. Then one day I had a Fb request from him. Which was kind of weird to me. Because he did not know me tht way, and my profile is set to private. I did not add him.. He would consistently request to take me to dinner, then I may not get another online message from him for a bit- but it might be trying to get me to "hook up" with him. I had him blocked from messaging me until I closed the account, and whn I decided to reopen it- he again messaged me. I never met him.. I always felt something - there were red flags- the one time we chatted for an extended conversation- something wasn't right. But I definitely am saddened tht anyone would have to die this way. Very thankful- however- now tht I paid attention to my gut instincts." (by Yep, 1/14/13)
"You're sure as sh*t I told him every bit of that and more when he was alive, but that, nor a restraining order kept that bastard from harassing me for years! You are delusional if you think he was such a good person! You have NO idea the evil and hurtful things he did and was capable of! Ooh so he may have "changed." We'll a snake can shed it's skin, but it's still a snake.: (by Relieved, 1/15/13)
"You are a very lucky woman. I, however was not. We were together for around 10 months & he lived with me. He had no job and spent all day online lying to more women about what he did, saying he had a private jet and boats in Florida. Of course they believed them, until I got online and set them straight as to the liar he was." (by Relieved, 1/15/13)
"When I tried to end the relationship, he would threaten and abuse me, then tell me I could never leave him. I tried for 3 months until I finally got some help and moved all my stuff out while he was gone. When he came back that night before I was finished, I had to point a loaded gun at him just to make him leave. So yeah, I've been waiting to see this news for quite some time, because I've been there." (by Relieved, 1/15/13)
"girl..ME TOO.Ive known him for years. He would message me and text my phone and say LETS HOOK UP TONITE.or SAY LETS DO SOMETHING TONIGHT.He was persistant. Never gave up. Keith was a great &FUN guy. Very interesting. I like guns too. Loved to hear his stories about where he'd been and the things hed done. Loved listening to him but I just wanted to be friends and nothing more. Gonna miss him soo much. There will NEVER be another KEITH. Rest easy baby. Sorry I couldnt make the funeral but I was in a rut at that time but I tried to make it.~til I see you again just know we were ALWAYS friends~" (by My Opinion, 1/16/13)
"Yep the world will be a better place. His goal was to have as many children as he could and abandon them. Lie and cheat. He wanted to conquer as many woman as he could while being mentally and physically abusive." (by To be a First, 1/16/13)
"Isn't that the truth! That's all he ever wanted, was to go around sticking his did in a bunch of women aka a man whore!!! Didn't believe in condoms. Surprised he didn't have more then 3 kids. He was a compulsive liar & cheater. No wonder he had 3 different women put E.P.Os on him." (by HaterZ, 1/21/13)
Yes, this is the man which numerous right-wing blogs uphold as a hero, a martyr for the Second Amendment assassinated by the federal government. While it's intriguing to think about the "Death Squads" and their alleged "red list" which contains the names of Americans slated to be rubbed out by the Department of Homeland Security, the mudslinging locals and their tawdry tales indicate that Keith Ratliff was about as close to being a martyr as any wife-beating dirty-dealing gun-loving hillbilly.
If you still think the death of Keith Ratliff was a political assassination carried out by a government "death squad", you'll want to stay tuned next week, when we post our exclusive interview with the Tooth Fairy.