Ryan Ferguson and Chuck Erickson were convicted of killing Kent Heitholt, a sports editor at the Columbia Daily Tribune. Heitholt was assaulted and strangled at the car park of his office. Heitholt was murdered on Nov 1, 2001.
Chuck Erickson and Ryan Ferguson were classmates at Rock Bridge High School. The murder would have gotten away unsolved if not for the guilty conscience of Erickson. Erickson talked. Erickson told friends that he dreamed he was involved in Kent Heitholt’s murder.
Police interrogated Erickson. Erickson broke under pressure and confessed. Erickson told police he and Ryan Ferguson committed the murder of Kent Heitholt. There were no physical evidence or witnesses to the killing.
Chuck Erickson was convicted and sentenced to 25 years. Ryan Ferguson was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
Ryan’s father, Bill Ferguson, maintains a website with videos, photos and other evidence he has gathered at FreeRyanFerguson.com
Bill Ferguson was a real estate agent. He started to investigate on the murder after Ryan was charged in court. His son Ryan Ferguson and Charles “Chuck” Erickson, then 17, were drinking at a local bar.
It was Halloween, Oct 31, 2001. By the time the day turned to November 1, it saw an editor murdered at his office building’s car park. Columbia Police Department, in Missouri, investigated and in March 2004, two men were arrested.
Mike Boyd was a colleague of the dead man. He was the last person to have seen the victim alive. Police didn’t interrogate him thoroughly. Boyd refused to confirm even the color of his car he was driving on the night of the murder on Halloween 2001. Boyd gave inconsistent statements on what he saw at the car park lot. He sometimes said he saw two young men, wile at other timnes he said he never saw anybody.
The victim, Heitholt, was strangled and budgeoned to death. No fingerprints, weapon, shoe prints, hair or blood were matched to Ferguson and Erickson.
Based on a confession made by Erickson, and on the strength of a janitor’s account, Ferguson was blamed for the murder and sentenced to 40 years. Erickson was sentenced to 25 years in jail.
Ryan’s father was desperate to help his son. He went to the George nightclub and dance club, where Erickson said they had drinks until 1:30 am. Erickson said they went off in search of a victim to rob to get money to buy more drinks. Erickson said they returned to the George nightclub after they allegedly killed Heitholt, which was around 2:45 am. There was a discrepancy in Erickson’s story. The bar closed at 1:30, and did not stay open until after 2:45 am.
A second janitor denied recognizing either Ryan or Chuck. The guys were not the men she saw fleeing the victim’s car.
After the trial by jury, the judge took one year to sentence Erickson and Ferguson to prison. While incarcerated, Ferguson received a letter from Erickson. Erickson said he killed Ken Heilholt. Ferguson’s lawyer met Erickson to take his prepared statement.
Erickson said he was on drugs and alcohol when he thought he committed the murder. He said he was the one who killed Heithold and Ryan was beside him when the crime happened.
Erickson said he knew he committed perjury by lying on the stand in court. He had abused drugs since 14. He wasn’t sure what he had done on the night Heitholt was killed. Years before the murder, is parents had submitted him to testing which showed he had loop holes in his memory.
On May 2, 2011, the court will respond on whether a new hearing will be held for Ryan Ferguson.
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