Please Grant Ryan Ferguson a New Trial or Freedom!
  • Petitioned Mr. Chris Koster

This petition was delivered to:

Missouri Attorney General
Mr. Chris Koster
Governor of Missouri
Jay Nixon

Please Grant Ryan Ferguson a New Trial or Freedom!

    1. Petition by

      Bill Ferguson

November 2013


Since the day he was convicted for a murder he was innocent of, I have been fighting to free my son, Ryan Ferguson. Ryan was convicted in 2005 of the murder of a Columbia, MO newspaper editor but he always maintained his innocence and was convicted based on the testimony of two witnesses, who have since recanted under oath. There was never any evidence that pointed to Ryan’s guilt. When I started my petition, I had no idea that 250,000 people 'would sign! In early November 2013, Ryan’s conviction was overturned and on November 12, the state announced that they would not retry him! This day has been a long time coming and we really wouldn't be here now without the support and backing of so many people from around the world. To see so many people signing the petition on has been incredibly inspirational for Ryan and our family. Thank you to everyone who signed Ryan's petition.

Why My Son Ryan Ferguson Should Be Granted A New Trial

My son Ryan Ferguson was convicted in 2005 for the 2001 murder of Columbia Daily Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt. Ryan was convicted solely on the testimony of two witnesses. Both of those witnesses have since given written affidavits that their testimonies during the original trial were false. That leaves zero evidence against my son. No witnesses, no physical evidence, no DNA, no motive, in fact nothing tying him to the crime. Yet my son is currently serving a 40-year sentence for a crime he had no part in.

The fact is Ryan should never have been convicted in the first place, because the main witness in his case was never credible. The jury simply believed Chuck Erickson’s story.

Ryan and Chuck were Rock Bridge High School juniors who snuck into a bar on Halloween night 2001 and left sometime around 1:15 a.m. Ryan said he drove his friend Chuck home, then came home himself. He has never wavered from his account.

Years later Chuck - who is a troubled young man - told friends that he had ‘dreams’ about the murder. He said he initially repressed his memory of the killing but began to recall details two years later after reading news reports of the crime. Details emerged in his ‘dreams’, he claimed. He called the encounter a botched robbery hatched when he and Ryan ran out of money and wanted to keep drinking.

The police brought Chuck in for questioning after hearing about his stories. In the interrogation tapes - available online - it is clear that Chuck knows very little about the case and admits he doesn’t even know if he was there. But the police feed him key information about the murder and pressure him into confessing and implicating Ryan in the murder. There was never any physical evidence against either of them. My son Ryan had never been in any trouble with the law before this point and had no connection to the victim Kent Heitholt.

The second ‘witness’, janitor Jerry Trump, originally told friends he could not identify who he saw near the body. But during a 2005 trial he positively identified Ryan and my son was sentenced to spend the majority of his adult life behind bars.

Both Erickson and Trump now claim they were coerced into modifying their statements in favor of the prosecution of my son. Chuck blames Columbia Police interrogators for not delving into inconsistencies in his story, and Trump said Prosecutor Kevin Crane told him that it would be “helpful to him” if Trump could identify Ryan as one of the men at the crime scene. The prosecution also withheld key information that could have helped prove my son’s innocence, including further witnesses who state that Ryan wasn’t at the scene.

We now know that both key witnesses gave false testimonies. In light of these significant changes in eyewitness testimony and the lack of ANY evidence implicating Ryan, it is clear that my son deserves a new trial.

Ryan’s case has been covered extensively on NBC Dateline, CBS 48 Hours Mystery, and numerous TV news reports and magazine and newspaper articles. His story has touched millions of people across America – and the world. It has become clear to many people that Ryan has been betrayed by the Missouri justice system and deserves another shot at justice.

I ask you to please sign this petition to demand that my son Ryan be granted a new trial and the chance to rebuild his life…

Thank you,

Bill Ferguson

Free Ryan Ferguson Facebook Page

This petition was created by Injustice Anywhere for Bill Ferguson.

Recent signatures


    1. Nov 5, 2013: Ryan's conviction has been overturned!

      We are thrilled to announce that Ryan's conviction has been overturned by the Western District Court of Appeals (11/5/13). The State of Missouri now has 15 days to appeal this verdict. If they do not appeal Ryan will be freed immediately. if the State chooses to appeal Ryan can then apply for bail.

      Ryan is not yet free but we are hopefully he will be released from prison within the next 7-15 days. Today is a great day for justice. More updates to come soon...

    2. Reached 200,000 signatures
    3. SEPT 2013: Ryan’s oral arguments on Sept 10th went extremely well

      The Ferguson family and Kathleen Zellner are optimistic that the judges will rule in Ryan’s favor. In particular, the 3 judge panel questioned the Brady violations committed by Prosecutor Crane, evidence withheld from Ryan’s defense team at his 2005 trial and the testimony of Jerry Trump who last year recanted his testimony.

      Ryan’s hearing also attracted massive media attention including news crews from CBS’s 48 Hours, NBC’s Dateline and ABC’s Good Morning America. MTV’s Andrew Jenks was also filming the events for his upcoming feature film documentary on Ryan’s story…

    4. Reached 100,000 signatures
    5. JULY 2013: Oral Arguments Scheduled For Ryan's Appeal

      We have just heard that the Western District Court of Appeals will be hearing oral arguments for Ryan's Habeas Corpus petition on September 10th. We are disappointed that Ryan has to wait another 2 months for oral arguments to be heard - but we are also hopeful that we are one step closer to justice - and the end of Ryan's long ordeal.

      It has also been announced that MTV star Andrew Jenks will be directing a documentary film following Ryan's long fight for justice. The film is produced by former MSNBC host Dylan Ratigan and co-owner of the St Louis Rams, Chip Rosenbloom and is currently in production.

    6. APRIL 2013: Momentum for Ryan is growing at a rapid rate

      Last month the State responded to Ryan's Habeas petition and urged the Western District Court of Appeals to deny the petition. Ryan's lawyer Kathleen Zellner later filed a statement, rebutting the State's request. We now await the decision of the court. The Innocence Project and UMKC law school also filed an amicus brief on Ryan's behalf at the same time.

      Ryan's attorney Kathleen Zellner has filed a petition for a Pardon based on Actual Innocence with Missouri Governor Jay Nixon.

      Support for Ryan continues to grow rapidly following the recent CBS 48 Hours update on his story. We now have over 35,000 supporters on Ryan's Facebook page, Tweets of support from several celebrity names and a dedicated You Tube channel featuring a selection of Ryan's media coverage.

      False Testimony - Chuck Erickson

      Local Missouri news report highlights Chuck Erickson's 2012 recantation of the evidence he provided at Ryan Ferguson's 2005 trial. Chuck's evidence was cruci...

    7. Reached 75,000 signatures
    8. FEB 2013: Ryan's story continues to attract attention around the world

      Ryan's attorney recently filed a petition requesting a Writ of Habeas Corpus - the State has been given until February 26, 2013 to file Suggestions in Opposition to Ryan’s Petition.

      48 Hours will be airing their third update to Ryan’s story on Saturday, February 23rd at 9pm / 8c on CBS.

      The revamped Free Ryan Ferguson website is now live. The site explains Ryan's story in detail, the overwhelming facts proving his clear innocence and provides a full index of legal documents pertaining to Ryan's case.

    9. Reached 10,000 signatures
    10. Support for Ryan continues to grow as we look forward to 2013

      In November 2012 Ryan's story was featured for a second time on NBC's Dateline, gathering even more public support for his case. In February 2013 CBS will be airing a third update on Ryan's story as part of their 48 Hours news show. We will be launching a revamped website for Ryan in early 2013 and Ryan's next appeal should be in the summer of 2013. Please keep spreading the word about this innocent man to all your family, friends and contacts. We deeply appreciate and are very touched by all your support.

    11. Reached 6,000 signatures


    Reasons for signing

      • 11 months ago

      i sign this petition and glad it work. it a shame of what are system is become.god bless you and enjoy your freedom. power to the people.

    • Robert Machay PHX, AZ
      • 11 months ago

      thank god he got out!!! :)

      • 11 months ago

      I was just watching the 48 Hours case on TV and somehow forgot that I had signed this petition. When I heard that the judge refused the appeal I screamed out that our judges and prosecutors only care about money and their egos. Then I remembered about this petition and getting the email that Ryan was released. A huge relief came over me and I got a small tear in my eye. I think this website is very important and I am thankful that we can right the wrongs of the egomaniacs with law degrees and badges.

      Good luck in life Ryan.

    • James Fortune PALM SPRINGS, CA, CA
      • 12 months ago


    • christine gilbert COPPELL, TX
      • 12 months ago

      I am tried of the flawed legal.system. The harrassing of people to give false testimony.


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