Ferguson's Father Speaks Out
Bill Ferguson has a picture of his son Ryan that he says shouldn't scare you.
"That's what he really looks like, not like what you would see on the front of the paper. Nice looking kid," Ferguson says.
The picture is on the front of his binder full of details about the Kent Heitholt case, details Ferguson has investigated since police put his son behind bars.
"Initially when I first heard that, it was the most shocking thing I've ever experienced," Ferguson says. "It took me about two or three days to recover from that. And I said whoa, I've got to do something. There's something just not right here."
So he started looking into Kent Heitholt's murder. He's walked the crime scene at least 12 times, including one time last Halloween at the exact time of the murder.
"I just want to immerse everything, every sound, every smell, every possible feeling and emotion that I could possibly think of doing this. And maybe that would lead to a clue," Ferguson says.
Yet he says there's no evidence that connects his son or Chuck Erickson to the crime. Erickson pleaded guilty to the murder last year, and he says Ryan Ferguson was his accomplice.
"The police are saying the motive was to go and rob somebody, to obtain funds to come back and buy beer at By George. The biggest problem I have with that is the club is closed at 1:30. The homicide took place at 2:20," Ferguson says.
Ferguson says his son took Erickson home around 1:30, then drove himself home, talked on his cell phone and went to bed. The story is different from Erickson.
"Allegedly Chuck's saying they came through here and they hit him," Ferguson says. "This is where the victim would have been found right here. It was a tragedy. Should have never happened. He was a father just like you, with teenagers in high school just like me."
Ferguson grieves for the Heitholt family.
"There's not one scintilla of evidence-Dna fingerprints, weapon, nothing-from the car, from our houses, from the scene, that tie either Ryan or Chuck to the crime scene. Nothing," Ferguson says.
He believes neither teen was guilty of the murder. Instead Ferguson thinks police fed Erickson information in what he calls a rush to publicity. Specifically, Bill Ferguson remembers seeing a videotaped police interview where detectives take Erickson back to the crime scene.
"And just as you see where Kent Heitholt's car was parked, Rather than say uh, 'Chuck where did that crime take place? Where in the parking lot did that take place,' the police go, 'Chuck...You see where the white Jeep is with the beige top? That's where the crime took place,'" Ferguson says. "I just don't think he was down here, I think he was making it up as he goes and he's being fed what to say."
When asked whether police fed Erickson information to implicate Ferguson Police Chief Boehm said he couldn't say anything about the case.
"I think you know historically we respond to any complaints the public has, but we just can't before the case goes to trial," Boehm says.
No matter what police talk about, Ferguson will keep trying to retrace the steps he says his son never took, searching for why he says someone would lie about his son. He says he can't wait for Ryan to get out of jail.
"It's almost like one month of each year of his age has been spent in Boone County jail. And I've been through a lot in my life. But nothing compared to that. He's tougher than I am, he's tougher than I'll ever be," Ferguson says.
It's a tough case with two families waiting for a resolution. Bill Ferguson says he thinks Erickson lied to police on many other details about that Halloween night and the reason why, he says, will come out in court. Prosecutor Kevin Crane says court rules won't let him talk before trial. Opening statements start Monday at the Boone County Courthouse.
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