Bill Ferguson, Ashland high schoolers tour Kent Heitholt crime scene

Tuesday, November 22, 2011 | 6:14 p.m. CST; updated 6:49 p.m. CST, Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Bill Ferguson, father of Ryan Ferguson, leads students from Southern Boone High School on a tour of the crime scene in his son's case on Tuesday afternoon. The tour was part of their forensics class.

COLUMBIA — Almost 80 forensic science students from Southern Boone High School got the chance to walk through an old — but now famous — crime scene Tuesday.

Since late September, the students have been studying the case of Ryan Ferguson, who is serving a 40-year sentence for the 2001 murder of Columbia Daily Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt.


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Angie Nichols, who teaches forensic science at the Ashland high school, said the class has been looking at types of forensic evidence and the ways that evidence is collected and analyzed. This semester, the class has focused on the facts of the Ferguson case.

"The best part about it is how engaged they are with the case," Nichols said.

Bill Ferguson recently spoke to a group of more than 150 Southern Boone students and, on Tuesday, gave two tours, recreating the prosecution's explanation of the events that led to Heitholt's murder.

"To truly understand the crime, people need to understand the crime scene," Ferguson said.

The tour started at the beginning, in the place where Ryan Ferguson's car was said to have been parked on the night of the murder. The tour then recreated the actions Ferguson and Chuck Erickson took as described by the prosecution. The tour led the students to the Tribune parking lot, in the direction of Locust Street, and back to where Ferguson's car had been parked.

For the students, Bill Ferguson went back and forth between the prosecution's case and his own version of what happened that night.

Along the way, he quizzed the students.

"How many times was he (Heitholt) hit?" Ferguson asked before an array of raised hands.

"Eight, nine, 10," various voices shouted back at him.

"A little higher — 11. Eleven times. What was used?" Ferguson asked.

Several students threw out more guesses: "His shirt? His belt? A bungee cord?"

Standing in the small alley between the Tribune offices and parking lot — Ferguson said the Tribune's management has banned him from giving tours on Tribune property — he tried to paint the scene for the students, alleging that there are major inconsistencies in the accounts of Erickson and two mainstays of the case, Jerry Trump and Michael Boyd.

Some students discussed the facts and various accounts of the case, and many murmured that they're sure of Ferguson's innocence.

Despite the conclusions that many of the Ashland students have come to, numerous motions and appeals from the Ferguson family have been unsuccessful. Ryan Ferguson's case will be in front of a judge again in April in connection with a habeas corpus petition filed in his name last February.

Standing quietly in the background of the second tour was Josh Kezer, whom Bill Ferguson said is now a friend of his son's. After almost 16 years in prison, Kezer was exonerated in February 2009 after a judge threw out a 1994 verdict following a habeas corpus petition.

Bill Ferguson said he believes habeas corpus is perhaps the only way people wrongly convicted can be exonerated. He said Kezer's 2009 judgement is a decision he hopes for in April.

With 11 boxes of police reports, fingerprints and interviews with witnesses, Ferguson said he thinks he knows the truth.

"I only talk about it if I have it documented," he said. "And I have practically everything documented."

By giving tours, Ferguson said he hopes to educate people and tell them what he believes really happened that night in 2001.

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Matthew Akins November 22, 2011 | 7:17 p.m.

The 5 Stories of Michael Boyd: Directed by Bill Ferguson, produced by Citizens For Justice.

(Report Comment)
Arch Brooks November 23, 2011 | 8:22 a.m.

This whole debacle is a testament to the worst possible police work on the planet not to mention a total disregard of due process on behalf of the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. The taxpayer funded and continues to fund this level of incompetence! IT IS ABSURD!

(Report Comment)
Al Larr November 23, 2011 | 9:03 a.m.

I watched Mr Erickson's most recent confession. His story has changed but he continues to place his close friend Mr Ferguson at the scene of the murder, and claims they intended to rob Mr Heitholt.

I was not living in Columbia when this murder took place and have no agenda one way or the other, but I don't see how Ferguson gets out of prison based upon Erickson's testimony. If he admits to being at the scene he could get a reduced sentence but that is the best he can hope for.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor November 23, 2011 | 9:39 a.m.

Sorry Al, but it makes no sense at all to give any credence to what Mr Erickson has to say. You have someone who has mental health issues, drug abuse issues at the time, and has lied under oath and you want to believe some parts of his stories even though they have changed? Doesn't make any sense to me at all. Ericksons testimony is as worthless as an Owebama campaign promise!

(Report Comment)
Al Larr November 23, 2011 | 12:02 p.m.

I'm telling you how it looks to an impartial observer. I wasn't living in COMO when it happened, don't know anybody involved, don't have an agenda. I've seen the video. I realize this is a controversial topic but Erickson's second confession was not coerced by police, he doesn't look crazy or drugged, and he places Ferguson at the scene of a robbery which turned into murder and is the sole reason Erickson sits in prison. Erickson's new confession probably gets Ferguson a reduced sentence but doesn't exonerate him. Don't hate the messenger, I'm just telling you how it looks to me.

The lesson is to be careful who you let your kids hang around with. Ferguson would not be in prison if he wasn't hanging around with Erickson.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor November 23, 2011 | 12:22 p.m.

Al, not hating on you at all. Just expressing my opinion the same way you are. I don't believe anything Erickson has to say. He is an admitted liar and he does have mental health problems even though he doesn't "look crazy" to you...

(Report Comment)
Bill Ferguson November 23, 2011 | 12:30 p.m.

Since Erickson made the statement mentioned above new evidence has come out!
Charles Erickson and Jerry Trump the only two witnesses during Ryan's trial to place Ryan at the crime scene have both admitted to lying under oath.

That Prosecutor Crane had aided and abetted in their false testimony.

Now that we have Erickson's medical records we find he was experiencing black outs from which there is no recovery of memory.

This is why he was agreeing with what ever the prosecutor asked.

The witnesses lied at the direction of the prosecutor and now these witnesses are confessing in sworn affidavits and are prepared to testify against Prosecutor/Judge Crane in April.

There is no evidence or witness to place Ryan or Chuck at the crime scene.
I will post their sworn affidavits in another comment

(Report Comment)
Bill Ferguson November 23, 2011 | 12:40 p.m.

Please read the new evidence

Jerry Trump’s sworn affidavit saying he lied

Charles Erickson’s sworn affidavit saying he lied

List of all our exhibits for our Habeas Hearing April

(Report Comment)
Bill Ferguson November 23, 2011 | 12:49 p.m.

View the many stories of the man who last spoke to the victim just minutes before he died

One needs to see this to better understand the crime scene

(Report Comment)
mike mentor November 23, 2011 | 2:07 p.m.

Good luck Bill!
I hope I never have to work for my son in the way you have for yours.
I also hope that the spotlight you will be bringing on prosecutorial misconduct lessons the chance of prosecutors acting like Crane did on this one in the future.
Good luck!

(Report Comment)
Cindy Eldajani November 23, 2011 | 9:44 p.m.

Bill Ferguson, is absolutely right about black outs! i had one, and i was a victim of a sexual assault its been 5 or 6 yrs now, and i don't remember nothing that happen the perpetrator got away with it, because i could not remember anything, Mr Erickson's confession consists of a dream, and Mr Erickson, used drugs, and dreams can seem very real when in fact there not, the investigation was the worst i seen, Mr Erickson did not commit this crime either he had a Dream, and he didn't even know how, Mr Heitholt was even killed, the videos prove that the police fed him the information had Mr Erickson, said out of his own mouth how he was killed then it would be believable but you cant feed someone what the murder weapon was, an say oh we got a confession! its absurd! its called common sense i don't need a law degree to figure that one out, and i`m here to tell you that you will never remember a single thing if you have a black out! the person who killed Mr Heitholt is the last person to see him alive, Mr Boyd! and further more if your going to convict these kids for the crime you should have some concrete evidence! no DNA matching the accused the only reason why Ryan was convicted!was because, Mr Crane bullied witnesses to lie on the stand! because there was no other evidence to convict Ryan, and the evidence found at the scene could have cleared Ryan from ever being convicted! if they would have did there job! period there`s no amount of money that will give back to Ryan his lost yrs! from being wrongfully! convicted! go thru all the evidence and see for yourself, its seems that our justice system has failed! us as always its seems that as soon as your charged for a crime! people always assume that there guilty automatically! jurors really need to look over the evidence! really long an hard! that person could be Innocent! its not something to play with Bill Ferguson! i have your son in my prayers, an i believe that at the next hearing he will be set free may god bless you!!

(Report Comment)

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