A nationally known clothing stylist who helped produce Charleston Fashion Week likely went to sleep on the roof of a downtown parking garage and fell to his death Sunday morning, according to police reports obtained Tuesday.
William "Josh" Ratliff, 23, died of blunt-force trauma to the head, Deputy Coroner Dottie Lindsay said.
Charles Francis, a spokesman for the Charleston Police Department, said investigators do not suspect foul play.
Lindsay also said she does not suspect foul play but no final determination about Ratliff's death had been made.
A native of Blythewood, Ratliff had been living recently in North Charleston, Lindsay said. His website stated that he was based in Miami. Friends said that he recently came back to town and that they had been celebrating together Saturday night.
Employees of the Francis Marion Hotel on King Street told the police that they had escorted Ratliff from the hotel lobby early Sunday because he appeared to be drunk and asleep, according to supplemental incident reports.
Later that morning, around 3 a.m., a hotel worker saw him sleeping on the roof of the city parking garage next door at 401 King St. The employee called an administrative, non-emergency line for the police department but got a voice recording, the reports stated. No one called 911. The worker didn't call back because she didn't see Ratliff again, the reports stated.
A hotel guest noticed Ratliff's body around 10 a.m. Sunday, and an assistant manager called the police.
Officers found the body on a second-floor balcony of the garage. The balcony runs along the side of the garage, where parking is available on the sixth-floor roof.
Investigators said in the reports that a concrete wall more than 4 feet high separates the rooftoop parking area from a metal overhang that extends about 6 feet from the wall.
On the overhang is where hotel employees said they had seen Ratliff. Detectives also found a fedora-style hat and an iPhone there, along with a Subway sandwich and an opened bag of nacho chips.
The police did not immediately discover any evidence of a crime. Ratliff's wallet and a gold chain were still with him, and the coroner found no signs of trauma on his body other than what he likely suffered in a fall.
Ratliff started working as a production assistant and a stylist to the producers of fashion weeks in Charleston and Atlanta when he was 16, according to his website. He also served as a producer of Couture Fashion Week in New York City.
He was the first black man to earn a degree in fashion and retail management from the Art Institute of Charleston, Ratliff said on the site.
Ratliff also worked as a costuming intern for "Army Wives," a Lifetime television series filmed in Charleston, and as a freelance fashion writer for The Post and Courier.
He recently announced on Twitter that he was a new fashion editor for Where We Stand Magazine, an online publication highlighting fashion trends in Charleston.
Marcus Amaker, former Preview and Charleston Scene editor, said he was always impressed by Ratliff's warmth.
"He was loved by all who met him, and he was well-known in the Charleston fashion scene," Amaker said. "I was always struck by how genuine he was. He always greeted me with a smile, even when it seemed like he was too busy to take the time to say hello. It should be noted how quickly he rose to fame within his profession. For me, that was proof that he was doing what he was meant to be doing with his life. He is missed by so many people."
Staff at the Art Institute remembered him as a bright and promising student but said they were not authorized to speak to reporters.
Dave Munday contributed to this story. Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.
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