Tennessee homicide suspect given away by cardboard license plate

Mike Still • Apr 11, 2019 at 5:33 PM

POUND — A cardboard license plate led to the arrest of a Tennessee man wanted in connection with a 2018 fatal traffic crash in Knoxville Monday.

According to a statement Tuesday by Pound Police Chief Tony Baker, Steve R. Ratliff, 69, Dandridge, was arrested during a traffic stop around 9 p.m. on southbound U.S. Route 23. Baker said that Pound Police Lt. Dustin Folk, a K-9 handler, spotted a homemade, cardboard “LOST TAG” license plate on the blue Chevrolet Venture van Ratliff was driving.

While Folk had Ratliff stopped, Baker said, a Wise County Sheriff’s Department dispatcher found that Ratliff was wanted on a homicide charge in Knoxville in connection with a May 2, 2018 three-vehicle collision that fatally injured Jefferson Williford, 24.

According to Dandridge Police Department comments to media in 2018, Ratliff was test driving a Mercedes when he struck Williford’s Volkswagen and pushed it under a semi.

Ratliff was taken to the Southwest Regional Jail in Duffield and is awaiting extradition.