The Maneater

Ryan Ferguson's father keeps fighting

Ferguson has led more than 100 crime scene tours.

Ryan Ferguson is a quarter of the way into a 40-year sentence, but his father is hopeful he will get out.

"I believe the evidence will set him free," Bill Ferguson said.

Last Saturday, Bill Ferguson led a group on a crime scene tour from Lifestyles Furniture to the parking lot of the Columbia Daily Tribune, where the crime occurred. His son, Ryan Ferguson, was convicted in 2005 of second-degree murder and first-degree robbery connected to the death of then-Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt.

Ryan Ferguson is represented by Kathleen Zellner and is waiting to hear back from the Western District Appellate Court. He asked for a pardon from Gov. Jay Nixon on Monday.

The tour group of roughly 30 came from all over Missouri. Some people at the tour have been following the case since the first day, while others learned about it through Facebook.

Bill Ferguson said the best thing people can do is tell their friends and family about Ryan's case.

"As more people talk to more people, that's how this builds momentum," Bill Ferguson said.

Richard Drew made the trip from Hoboken, N.J., for the crime scene tour. He also visited Ryan in prison on Sunday. Drew is a TV producer for NBC and first heard about the case when the NBC news program "Dateline" did a story on Ryan. Drew has since reached out to the family and offered his help. Drew is an administrator on the Free Ryan Ferguson Facebook page, and he revamped the website during the past six months.

Since Drew got on board, Ryan's petition on Change.org has accumulated more than 68,000 signatures, and the Facebook page has grown from 2,500 likes to 35,000.

Drew said he speaks to Ryan weekly and that Ryan sounds really upbeat and happy. He said he found the crime scene tour interesting and is optimistic that Ryan will be released from prison.

"I know 100 percent in my heart he is going to get out," Drew said. "We are in this for the long haul."

Bill Ferguson said he does the crime tours because they enlighten people about what actually happened.

The tour began at Lifestyles Furniture at First Street and Broadway, the location of the now-closed By George Night Club. Bill Ferguson then led the group to the Tribune parking lot by following Chuck Erikson's testimony.

In 2004, Erikson told police he and Ryan committed the murder after having a dream about the crime. Bill Ferguson led the group on the route Erikson told police he and Ryan took on their way to the Tribune building. Erikson's testimony helped to convict Ryan.

Bill Ferguson said he was not mad at Erikson, who recanted his testimony last April.

As the tour progressed, Bill Ferguson maintained a smile and even cracked some jokes.

"There is no use getting all upset about it," Bill Ferguson said.

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