'Dateline,' '48 Hours' in Columbia revisiting Ryan Ferguson case

Wednesday, February 23, 2011 | 7:17 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — In light of new evidence and a recent habeas corpus petition filed on Ryan Ferguson's behalf, "Dateline" and "48 Hours" visited Columbia this week to film new shows about the murder of Kent Heitholt and the investigation that followed.

The show "48 Hours" aired its first story about the case in February 2006. They called it "Dream Killer," referring to Charles Erickson, who came forward in 2004 and admitted he and Ferguson had killed Heitholt. The boys were both 17 at the time of the murder. 

Erickson said he didn't remember what he and Ferguson had done until he dreamed it.Erickson received 25 years in prison as part of a plea agreement. Ferguson was sentenced to 40 years in prison in 2005.

The "48 Hours" story was updated in April 2008, but Erickson has since recanted his testimony, saying he alone committed the murder. He maintains Ferguson was there, but did not participate in slaying Heitholt.

A writ of habeas corpus, which orders a person in custody to be brought before a court and places the burden of proof on those detaining the person to justify his or her continued detention, was filed on Feb. 14. The writ cited, among other things, that two key witnesses during Ferguson's trial recanted their testimonies and the jury selection for the trial was unconstitutional.

Ferguson's father, Bill, said both shows spent time with him this week revisiting the parking lot where Heitholt died and interviewing his son at the Jefferson City Correctional Center. He said he didn't know if Erickson was interviewed as well.

A producer for "48 Hours" said the show is set to run March 26. "Dateline" has not yet aired a story about Ferguson's case.

Like what you see here? Become a member.

Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


Sammi Arden March 27, 2011 | 8:46 p.m.

After watching 48 Hours the first time it aired regarding Ryan and this case- it left our family with a very unsettling feeling as we all viewed it together.

That young man is innocent! We are from Arizona and hadn't heard anything about this case.

After watching 48 Hours again last night we are even more convinced of the innocence of this man! We are praying that justice will prevail and that he is released soon and will get his life back!

I honestly believe in the innocence of the other boy as well. I think they were both framed by not only the police department but by an over zealous prosecutor! Shame on all of them!!!!!

We will continue to follow this case and keep Ryan and his family in our prayers along with the other innocent victims involved!

In the meantime I hope the police department will get on the ball and do their job and find the guilty person/s who did this!

The people who live there should be worried and afraid as two innocent people are in prison and the real killer is on the loose!!!

(Report Comment)
Mike Adams April 7, 2011 | 11:39 p.m.

I have been working on this case so long that Ryan's mom and I are now close personal friends. We have come to the point that there is no remaining evidence against Ryan. In fact there is more evidence that then prosecutor Kevin Crane, now JUDGE Kevin Crane, has more to fear from the law than Ryan does. This Judge just might lose his job, especially if he commits perjury on the stand in the upcoming trial that Ryan is going to get. God knows that not all law enforcement acts like the police and prosecutor in Boone County, but God also knows what they did do. They are going to pay such a price some day. I know a man who died and went to hell once. He was revived and came back but he spoke of such a terrible, horrible place that those liars are going to end up in that I truly pity them. What he described I would not wish on anyone but Adolph Hitler himself. That happened when he was 27 and when he died again at the age of 68 he had spent all of those years asking forgiveness and making up for his early sins. He found the Lord and repented and that is the only way poor Judge Crane will ever escape the terror that waits for him. I beg him to do it now. Find a way or forever pay the price Judge. You certainly don't deserve it for that one mistake but neither does Ryan deserve what you did to him. You will find that you are going to feel much better after you come clean sir. God bless you Kevin and may God forgive you. Mike

(Report Comment)
Tracy Lester August 5, 2011 | 11:28 p.m.

It is the prosecutor, now a judge, who belongs in prison.

How can citizens of this area sit by while such a corrupt man sits on the bench?

Do not allow him to continue to cover up his bad acts!

I fear that an innocent man will remain in prison in order to cover for the crimes of a judge.

(Report Comment)

Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.