Editor’s murder focus of CBS’ ‘48 Hours’

The episode asks whether Charles Erickson dreamed he killed Kent Heitholt.
Friday, February 17, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 3:15 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

The CBS News program “48 Hours” will air a special segment Saturday on the conviction of Charles Erickson and Ryan Ferguson for the murder of Columbia Daily Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt. The segment, titled “Dream Killer,” will suggest that Erickson, who confessed to the crime and implicated Ferguson, may have dreamed the entire thing.

The idea came from an interview “48 Hours” correspondent Erin Moriarty did with Art Figueroa, a friend of Erickson’s, who said Erickson first came to him and said he had dreamed he committed the crime.

That’s not how Boone County Prosecutor Kevin Crane remembers it.

“When I talked to him (Figueroa) I didn’t understand it as Chuck saying ‘I dreamed this,’” Crane said.

He said there is a distinction between dreaming about something and adopting a dream as reality, and that Erickson remembered the crime when he testified.

Ferguson’s father Bill Ferguson, who has long maintained his son’s innocence and will continue to do so in the “48 Hours” segment, said inconsistencies in Erickson’s confession and testimony support a dream theory.

According to one police report, Erickson said he and Ferguson returned to By George nightclub after the crime, and that he ran into Dallas Mallory later that night. However, a subsequent police report indicating the time the bar closed, and a signed affidavit from Mallory, contradict Erickson’s testimony.

“It was all a dream — about Dallas, about the homicide, about going back to the bar,” Bill Ferguson said Thursday.

Memory expert Elizabeth Loftus, who testified for the defense, also weighs in with Moriarty for the “48 Hours” segment. During the trial last fall, Loftus testified that Erickson may have imagined the crime.

Jurors did not believe her testimony, Moriarty said. Six jurors were also interviewed for the segment, she said.

John Short, the lead detective on the Heitholt case, said he was not interviewed for the segment and refused to comment on it because the case is in the appeals process.

Attempts were made to contact Charles Erickson and his family but were not successful, Moriarty said.

Moriarty, who is also a lawyer, attended Ferguson’s trial. She said the trial made her uncomfortable as a lawyer and a reporter.

“In cases like this you get justice, but not necessarily the truth,” Moriarty said. “Does this case make me uncomfortable? Yes. Do I think they are innocent? I don’t know.”

Ferguson is serving two consecutive sentences totalling 40 years and is incarcerated at Jefferson City Correctional Center; Erickson is at Potosi Correctional Center, serving two consecutive sentences totalling 25 years, according to a Missouri Department of Corrections spokesman.

Bill Ferguson said that his son plans to appeal his conviction but must wait until court transcripts are received sometime in mid-March.

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