Money a motive for murder in Apple Valley? - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

Money a motive for murder in Apple Valley?

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Investigators are taking a closer look into the death of an Apple Valley woman whose body was found in the stairwell of her home in November because new tips are raising doubt about the way she died.

Police believe financial records and documents may even provide a motive for murder, but they aren't saying much while detectives continue to look into the death of 51-year-old Barbara Ratzel.

Ratzel lived on the corner of 145th and Hayes Avenue, in a home just across the street from Apple Valley High School. It's also where her body was found.

"She did have two DUIS," Ratzel's daughter told Fox 9 News. "She was a very heavy alcoholic."

Initially, the medical examiner ruled that Ratzel died from blunt force trauma to the head after suffering injuries consistent with a fall down the stairs. Her blood-alcohol level was nearly four times the legal limit.

"I was expecting bad news, but not like that, you know?" her daughter said.

Now, Ratzel's daughter, who did not want to be seen on camera, says she no longer believes her mother's death was just a tragic accident. That's why she's now talking with her mother's friends, her coworkers -- anybody who could have been involved, who might know something.

A recently-issued search warrant is adding to her suspicions, because police are looking to obtain Ratzel's records from her financial advisor. Police say those documents show a crime may have been committed, but they wouldn't explain what kind of crime or who may be behind it.

Police also learned that before Ratzel died, she had a dispute with a 29-year-old friend she met in court-appointed rehabilitation. Although that friend is not a suspect in the case, Ratzel's estranged husband told Fox 9 News that man sent his wife numerous text messages asking for a loan.

"He sent some threatening messages saying she was preventing him from getting his motorcycle; it was all her fault," he said.

Ratzel's estranged husband also did not want to appear on camera, but he said he went to the man's house to let him know his wife had died -- and that's when he found his gold money clip, which had been at his wife's home, on the front steps.

"I then asked, 'Is it possible you had taken something from her place?' And again, he said, 'no,'"Ratzel'ss husband recalled. "That's when I showed it to him and said, 'Can you explain how this ended up on your door step?' and he had no answer for that."

Fox 9 News is not revealing the 29-year-old's identity since he has not been charged with a crime, and police say for now, there are no suspects in the case let alone arrests. Meanwhile, suspicions are mounting for Ratzel's family as the investigation continues.

Anyone with tips regarding Ratzel's death is urged to call Apple Valley police at 952-953-2700.

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