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Ferguson family starts billboard campaign

Maoling Xiong

Ryan Ferguson’s family started a billboard campaign Monday, encouraging the public to provide information about a composite image of a man possibly linked to the 2001 murder of Columbia Tribune editor Kent Heitholt. The composite is a newer version of the previous composite produced by Columbia police based on the information from an eye witness.

Bill Ferguson, Ryan Ferguson’s father, says the billboard locations will change every four weeks in order to gain as much public attention as possible.

“We are encouraging the public going back to 2001, if anyone of them have heard it or knew, of a person that was in that parking lot that may have talked about it. And we consider this person the missing link, the missing link to this murder case that could shade light on what actually happened at the crime scene,” Bill says.

Ryan Ferguson was arrested in March 2004 and is serving a 40-year prison sentence for the murder and robbery of Heitholt. The key witnesses, former Tribune janitor Jerry Trump and co-defendant Charles Erickson, recanted their testimony at an evidentiary hearing in April. But a Cole County judge ruled against Ryan Ferguson last month and denied him a new trail. Bill Ferguson says he doesn’t agree with the ruling.

“Anytime a witness points out a person in the trial and it’s false testimony, then obviously the accuse should get a new trial. But he didn’t rule that way. So we are appealing his decision to a higher court, the Western District Court of Missouri,” Bill says.

Bill Ferguson says there is a $10,000 reward to anyone who can identify the person in the composite.

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