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Unsolved year-old murder near VCU haunts family, friends

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)--Every time a VCU text alert is sent, Rebecca Ratigan reads it carefully, hoping whatever crime being reported will somehow lead police to her brother Nathan’s killer.

It’s a cold case that haunts his family and friends.

"It’s hard to believe it's been a year," said Mark Ratigan, Nathan’s father.  "I know they're looking for them. Hopefully some good news will come one day. It just hurts."

You could call them messages with meaning: friends and family members jot down a thought on index cards and place them at the base of a tree in front of 305 West Marshall Street.  That's where Nathan Ratigan was shot to death at a friend's birthday party.

After partygoers asked two uninvited guests to leave, they came back a second time, and then a third time.

"A lot of us came out to the front porch and my friend had a gun to his head and they took his backpack off,” said Jeff Sharpe. “That's when they started shooting and everybody ran.”  Sharpe said Ratigan collapsed at the door.

"They’re cowards, man,” he said.  “Cowards hide behind a gun and run.  I don't understand."

Ratigan's murder is one of a number of violent incidents in an area that's considered VCU's footprint.

His girlfriend says that can be a positive thing.  "Every time something happens around VCU, I hope it'll help them find the suspect,” said Sarah Fitzgerald.   “They're not smart, you know they'll do it again.”

"They've torn us apart,” said Rebecca Ratigan.  “It's not fair. It hurts. I don't understand why and just because they haven't been caught, they will face judgment one day."

Police say they're still working on this case and ask anyone who may have information to come forward or call their Crimestoppers tip line at 780-1000.