House of Mystery True Crime History

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Free Ryan Ferguson - Brian D'Ambrosio

We want to avert our eyes in situations like Ryan Ferguson’s, but we can’t – and shouldn’t.

Ryan was convicted in 2005 of the 2001 murder and robbery of sport’s editor Kent Heitholt. As of September 1, 2013, Missouri keeps Ryan imprisoned after the only witnesses against him have admitted perjury at a habeas hearing.

When Ryan’s alleged accomplice, Charles Erickson, and former accuser, Jerry Trump, took the stand in his appeal both subjected themselves to perjury charges by recanting. In April 2012, both men disavowed their earlier statements, but the verdict remains valid, and Ryan endures incarceration.

Even more disquieting, Trump says former Boone County prosecutor Kevin Crane, now a circuit court judge, coached him to identify Ferguson and Erickson. No forensic evidence connects Ryan or Chuck to the scene of the crime.

Ryan’s life whittles down to what transpired during eighteen minutes in the early morning hours the day after Halloween in 2001. Since 2004, he has been robbed from his life and family by the criminal justice system. His conviction is a ghost that will haunt us until the state of Missouri comes to grips with what has happened.

Ryan’s situation contains all the typical features of exoneration cases: eyewitness misidentification, absent forensics, phony confessions, abysmal lawyering and disregarded testimony. Each was a factor in his 2005 trial.

The goal of this project is to help keep Ryan’s story a centrifugal force in Missouri’s political, social, cultural, and intellectual environments. To pry apart the senseless obstinacy that prohibits the acknowledgment of mistakes. May this be the shout that further pries loose the avalanche of dishonesty – the verbal equivalent of throwing gasoline on a fire.

Before the corroded bridge of truth and justice can be crossed, it first must be reconstructed.

Here we cross Ryan Ferguson’s sad story of blood and injustice, rooted in the violence of an incident bound by a few minutes of darkness – a tale of a “dream killer” and killed dreams.

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