Sara Williamson Raras was engaged in an acrimonious custody battle with her estranged husband, Lorenzo Raras, when she was found stabbed to death at her home in Howard County, Maryland, in November 1998.
Somebody had broken into 35-year-old Sara’s home by bursting through a window and had stabbed her with a hunting knife. Thankfully, her 16-month old son was not in the house at the time.
Suspicion initially fell on husband Lorenzo; however, it would later transpire that the true killers were Sarah’s 64-year-old mother-in-law Emilia Raras and the man she’d hired to do the dirty work, Ardale Tickles.
The police had no real leads, and the case grew increasingly cold. That is until an inmate at a Baltimore County jail, Edison George, told a detective that another inmate, Ardale Tickles, had admitted to the murder.
George agreed to wear a wire, and based on the recording he obtained, Tickles was arrested on August 24, 1999, and was transported for questioning. Tickles told investigators that Emilia Raras had offered him $2,000 and $3,000 to kill Sara Raras.
Emilia Raras thought Sara Raras had insulted her
When the police questioned Raras, she admitted to hiring Tickles but denied that she wanted to kill her daughter-in-law. She told police she was angry with Sara over various insults, and that she was concerned about the outcome of the custody battle involving her grandchild.
In April 2000, the 64-year-old grandmother was found guilty of conspiring to murder her daughter-in-law and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
At the sentencing, Raras said, “I would like to say to the honorable court that I had no intention at all to kill Sara. I’m very, very sorry that it happened.” Judge Dennis M. Sweeney responded: “Mrs. Raras is an evil person who has committed the most evil of deeds. I see no real remorse in this case.”
Tickles pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to life in prison. The judge left open the possibility of parole at a later date. However, Tickles was ordered to serve his time consecutively with another 25-year sentence he is serving for an unrelated attempted murder charge.
More from Investigation Discovery
Follow the links to read about more horrifying murders and stories of betrayal profiled on ID.
Melissa Atkin and Larry Reynolds from Tenessee were also embroiled in a bitter custody battle over their 5-year-old son when Reynolds says he snapped and shot his ex-partner three times in the head.
Also on ID, the quiet Texan street of Hollow Oak Drive was traumatized by two murders in the space of a few months. They were carried out by teenager, Christain Olsen, with at least one murder done at the behest of his older girlfriend, 39-year-old Kelly Sifuentez.
A Calculated Murder airs Friday at 8/7c on Investigation Discovery.