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S4E4: A Cold Case, a Dream, and a Tragic Miscarriage of Justice: The Wrongful Conviction of College Student Ryan Ferguson

Ryan Ferguson was a 17-year-old high school student when Kent Heitholt, a sportswriter for the Columbia Daily Tribune, was found beaten and strangled in Missouri. Heitholt's murder went unsolved for two years until police received a tip that a man named Charles Erickson could not remember the evening of the murder and had told a friend that he thought he may have been involved. Erickson, who had spent that fateful evening partying with Ryan Ferguson, was interrogated by police and despite initially seeming to have no memory of the night of the murder, eventually confessed and implicated Ryan as well. Police offered Erickson a plea deal in exchange for testimony against Ryan at his trial in 2005. Despite the lack of any physical evidence tying Ryan Ferguson to the crime, he was convicted of second-degree murder and robbery and sentenced to 40 years in prison. In 2009, Kathleen Zellner took over Ryan’s case on a pro bono basis, and in 2013 his conviction was vacated. Since his release, Ryan Ferguson has become a published author of the book Stronger, Faster, Smarter: A Guide to Your Most Powerful Body, hosted a television series on MTV Unlocking the Truth, and an advocate for other wrongfully convicted individuals.


Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom is a production of Lava For Good™ Podcasts in association with Signal Co. No1 and PRX.

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