Has justice been just to Ryan Ferguson?

This one isn’t random news, it’s mainstream. But it’s the most compelling ongoing story I know of. It should definitely get more attention from the public.

In October 2005, Ryan Ferguson was convicted of murdering Kent Heitholt, an editor at the Columbia Daily Tribune. Heitholt was murdered in 2001, when Ferguson was only 17 years old. The reason for his conviction? His former buddy, Chuck Erickson, decided one day two years after the murder that he and Ferguson must have done it. Erickson’s confession lacked new information, except what the police told him during interrogation. His mental health has been questioned. He told friends he dreamed that he committed the murder. Several elements of his story don’t check out. Ferguson has always maintained his innocence.

I first learned about Ferguson and Erickson last March when I was a reporter for the public safety beat at the Columbia Missourian. I did a story with another reporter, Ryan Neal, about Ferguson’s appeal for retrial. We sifted through an 86-page court document claiming that Ferguson’s original attorneys were ineffective. The list of mistakes and contradictions was endless.

Whether the court system is trustworthy or not, one thing is for sure, it’s slow. Here’s a quick timeline.

  • 2001-Kent Heitholt is murdered.
  • 2003- Erickson goes to police after telling friends he dreamed about committing the murder. He had recently read a story about the anniversary of the unsolved murder in the newspaper.
  • 2005- First trials. Erickson is convicted first, then Ferguson. Ferguson, barely 21 years old, is sentenced to 40 years in prison.
  • 2007- The Missouri Supreme Court refuses to hear Ferguson’s appeal for retrial.
  • 2008- Hearings to examine Ferguson’s motion for retrial drag on. Will it ever end?

There’s so much more info. If you’re interested in this case at all, check out these sources.

CBS’s 48 Hours Website with Story and Videos of Interrogations

Ferguson Family’s Website and YouTube Videos of Interrogations

Recent Columbia Missourian Articles:

Ferguson’s appeal of jury issue progressing

State wraps up Ferguson hearing by calling original prosecutor

False confession expert testifies in Ryan Ferguson hearing

Ferguson’s original attorneys say they did not receive information from prosecutor

Ryan Ferguson’s hearing expected to last two more days


About Nicole

Daughter of God, wife, mother, volunteer youth leader, substitute teacher, aspiring writer, rabbit owner, nature lover. These are some of my titles.
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8 Responses to Has justice been just to Ryan Ferguson?

  1. piggyy says:

    “As long as it was I couldn’t put it down.” That’s completely untrue. The writing was tedious, so you called people while I read the whole 86 page document. I did try to get you to read it, but you only got through about 10 pages.

  2. Nicole says:

    Ooo, feisty. I amend my former statement. I thought it was awfully interesting, but you’re right, I didn’t read it all in the newsroom. I did read it that weekend when I took it home though. Sorry to offend.

  3. Pingback: Tales of Injustice « A wandering mind

  4. Pingback: Ryan Ferguson’s appeal denied « A wandering mind

  5. Pingback: Ferguson Still Waiting « A wandering mind

  6. cheyunski says:

    I truly do not understand what President Obama has to do with this miscarriage of justice. I didn’t ask who you voted or did not vote for, this is about Ryan and his terrible run in with the criminal justice system. Please limit response to this case. Free Ryan!

  7. Lewne says:

    I saw the Ryan Ferguson trial recently on 48 hours.

    I cannot, in my mind, comprehend how a witch hunt prosecutor and the dumbest jury I have ever seen, could find Ryan Ferguson guilty.

    Let’s shove away the physical evidence. Someone did it. Let’s not find out who. Let’s convict. This is one of the most disturbing cases I have seen in my sixty one years.

    This former prosecutor and now judge, should be disbarred. He constantly provoked witnesses to say what he wanted them to say.

    And the jury. Never curious about physical evidence?

    Is everyone in Missouri this stupid and or evil?

  8. Sarah says:

    There was no evidence linking Ryan Ferguson to the murder. This entire case and his conviction disturbs me. Such an injustice.

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