Charles Erickson and Ryan Ferguson both received a prison sentence for the murder of Kent Heitholt. Ryan recently had his conviction vacated yet Charles still sits in prison. The same lack of evidence applies to Charles that applied to, the now free, Ryan Ferguson.
In 2003, the Columbia Tribune published an anniversary piece about the unsolved murder of Kent Heitholt. Shortly after reading this, Charles Erickson aged 19 started telling friends that he had had a dream that he may have been involved. A tipster called in and told the police about Charles' dream and in 2004 the police picked him up and took him in for questioning.
During the questioning it became apparent that Charles didn't know anything beyond what had already been published in the newspapers.
- Detective Short asked Erickson if he knew what the victim was strangled with. Charles demonstrated for Short how he thought Ryan had used his hands. When Short wasn’t satisfied with that Charles then guessed that maybe a shirt or a bungee cord or maybe even a rope had been used. Short became frustrated and spoon-fed Charles the information that the victim’s own belt was used., “Really?” said Charles, “I don’t remember that at all”. Short then asked if it was possible that Ryan had a belt in his hand. Charles still couldn’t believe the victim was strangled with his own belt and responded, “With the man’s belt? With his own belt?” He was asked if that detail rang a bell, and replied, “not at all”. (Taken from the freeryanferguson.com page).
This is shocking because this was information that the police had been holding back. Information that only those involved would know. Why would they tell Charles this information?
After being dragged in for questioning about nothing more than a dream he had had why did Charles go on to falsely confess? Charles was already a vulnerable young man at that time and ended up being misled into believing that Ryan was already confessing.
"The police threatened me to implicate Ferguson or else I would be solely responsible for Heitholt’s death and be charged with first-degree murder and possibly sentenced to death,' Erickson said in an affidavit. (Taken from an article in the daily mail).
Charles doesn't have much memory of the night in question and seems to have accepted his fate. Ryan however states that he drove Charles home that evening before driving home himself. If Ryan drove Charles home then how could Charles have committed this crime?