Convicted Murderer\'s Father Buys Billboard Space

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COLUMBIA - The father of convicted murderer Ryan Ferguson purchased six months worth of advertising space around Columbia Tuesday in an attempt to track down a possible witness in his son's murder case. The billboard Ferguson designed shows a composite of a possible witness along with a phone number asking for tips.

Ferguson said he began designing the billboard about a year and a half ago. The possible witness it features is a young man whom another witness said she saw at the crime scene on the night of Columbia Tribune Sports Editor Kent Heitholt's murder in 2001. Ryan Ferguson was convicted in 2005 for Heitholt's murder.

Bill Ferguson said the young man whose composte will be shown on the billboard was not involved in the murder. However, Ferguson said he believes the man could provide testimony that would prove his son not guilty. 

Ferguson spent $5,000 on the advertising space. He said he negotiated a deal with Lamar Advertising Company to have the billboard move around town every four weeks. Starting Nov. 26, it will be seen in various locations along I-70, Highway 63 and Business Loop 70. 

On Oct. 31, a Cole County judge denied Ryan Ferguson's request for a new trial. Bill Ferguson said the family is working on appealing the judge's decision. Ryan is currently in the Jefferson City Correctional Center serving his 40 year sentence for the 2001 murder.

Bill Ferguson said anyone with information about the possible witness shown in the composite should call 573-268-6458.