On January 7, Pocahontas County Sheriff’s Department Captain T.A. McCoy responded to a call that a racial slur had been spray painted on the side of the Pretty Penny Café in Hillsboro.
Seven days later, Maxwelton resident William “Robbie” Ratliff was arrested as a suspect after a person connected with the accused came forward to make a statement pertaining to the case.
According to the criminal complaint filed by McCoy in the Pocahontas County Magistrate Court, McCoy received the recorded statement Tuesday, January 13.
The criminal complaint did not include a statement from Ratliff.
After interviewing Ratliff and looking at all the evidence, McCoy said he believes the incident was more of a personal vendetta than racially fueled.
“It appears that there were some issues with the owner,” McCoy said. “It doesn’t appear to be anything other than that, which is kind of what we thought. After everything we looked at and speaking with him, apparently there were some problems at some point. He had some issues with the owner and I guess it was just one of those things that ate and ate at him. It appears to come to a point where he just wanted to do something to get back and that was his way of getting back at the owner.”
Ratliff, 40, is charged with unlawfully, intentionally and feloniously, by force or threat of force, willfully injure, intimidate or interfere with or oppress or threaten any other person in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him or her by the Constitution of the State of West Virginia.
The charge is considered a civil rights violation because West Virginia State Code does not use the term hate crime.
“We charged the most serious violation which was basically the civil rights violation,” McCoy said. “It’s not worded as a hate crime in the State Code. It’s sometimes referred to that way, but not in the code.”
Ratliff was briefly incarcerated in the Southern Regional Jail and is currently out on bond.