Free Ryan Ferguson: Another West Memphis Three? - December 6, 2012

Free Ryan Ferguson: Another West Memphis Three?I first became privy to the case of the West Memphis Three thanks to boredom.  I like to watch documentaries and there was nothing on real-time TV that I felt was worth watching.  Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills on HBO On Demand might be interesting, I thought.  It was the case of three young teenagers, who were “possibly” wrongfully accused.  They were suspects based on the long interrogation of one of them, Jesse Misskelley, who stated they had all murdered three boys.  It took him HOURS to be CONVINCED of his own guilt.  And the town’s rally to convict them wasn’t far from a new rendition of the Salem Witch Trials.


CSI: [insert city] doesn’t interest me.  Real-life stories with real people do.  Especially, cases where there is no physical evidence and only, questionable, witness testimony.  Especially, cases where there is a teenager involved.  Especially, cases where I just know the accused should be exonerated.  All evidence, or lack there of, and the suspect’s words and demeanor often guide me to what I believe is a wrongful conviction.


In my eyes, if there is no evidence and a conviction is based solely on witness accounts, minds can be tampered with.  Interrogators can convince possible suspects and witnesses, if they’re insecure in their memory.  Interrogators can convince possible suspects and witnesses, if they were intoxicated or are not capable of withstanding 12 hours of grueling questioning.  Obviously, this is not a hard rule, but it happens often.


Not many people could withstand 12 hours of interrogation.  It has nothing to do with strength, when it comes to a teenager.  They are young.  They are impressionable.  And they can grow tired and be swayed to believe what their interrogator tells them, however indirect.  Have you ever been in a much shorter (one or two hour argument) and caved because you grew tired?  Have you ever given in because the other person was convincing enough or manipulative enough to change your mind about certain events?


Thanks to all of the people whose heart strings were tugged by this case and did everything they could to make it known, a great defense team, Damien Echols’ wife and many celebrities, the West Memphis Three were exonerated.  They were required to take the Alford Plea, but most people who have evaluated the case believe they never should have been accused.  They spent 17 years, from 1993 to 2011, in prison for crimes there was no proof they committed.  Lucky is definitely not a word to describe their exoneration.  They were far from lucky, with Damien Echols only narrowly escaping death.


This leads me to a very similar case, in the respect that an accused was interrogated too long and a conviction was made without any physical evidence.  A conviction was made based solely on witness testimony.  The only difference in these two cases: the incident occurred in a college town and the accused was a middle class kid from a supportive family.


The accused’s name is Ryan Ferguson and I believe he is innocent.  Dateline NBC may have provided me with the evidence, but I’ve done enough research to believe on my very own…that he is INNOCENT.  That he has lost almost 9 years of his life because of the grueling interrogation of his friend.  I’m still not convinced of the co-defendant’s innocence, but I feel without a doubt that Ryan is innocent.


I hope Eddie Vedder, Johnny Depp, Natalie Maines and Peter Jackson (all supporters in the release of the West Memphis Three) can hear me loud and clear.  There was no real evidence in this case.  There was no DNA match.  There was no matching footprint.  In fact, the only shoe-print evidence found did not match that of the accused.  Yet, the testimony of one drunken teenager (that of Charles Erickson, the accused’s so-called friend, who has wavered in his account three times) has helped seal Ryan with a 40-year jail sentence.


They were 17 on the night of the murder in Columbia, Missouri, a college town.  It was Halloween night.  Ferguson’s older sister snuck him into a local bar.  He had a few drinks.  He talked to a few girls.  He remembers leaving the bar at closing and driving home with his initial accuser.  Only he remembers his accuser being passed out on the way home.  He remembers dropping him off at home.


That night, Kent Heitholt, an Editor for the Columbia Tribune, was murdered by what witnesses recall were two, young men.  No suspects were identified.  Two years passed after the murder, before Erickson came forward to the police and said the incidents of that night were not clear to him and that he couldn’t be sure he wasn’t there.  He was then interrogated for hours, as seen here:



I believe he was convinced he was guilty and that Ferguson was guilty because they were together that night.  He suddenly remembered details that he made no mention of two years prior.  It’s odd that he suddenly remembered the events of that night (on which he states he was “blackout drunk”), only DURING the long interrogation by police.


In my opinion, all Ferguson did was go to a bar at 17 and get drunk.  Charge him with underage drinking, if you must, but not for a murder he did not commit.  I remember going to bars when I was in my twenties, not much older than Ferguson, and going home drunk.  I remember talking to and being friends with people who were obliterated from alcohol abuse.


His friend’s testimony is invalid based on the fact that he was, in my mind, temporarily insane.  What’s the difference between being temporarily insane and blackout drunk?  Not much.  I believe, neither is in their right mind and they can be convinced that they did something they possibly didn’t.  More importantly, that someone else was there who wasn’t.


Eleven years later, Charles Erickson, the co-defendant, now says he was definitely blackout drunk.  He has wavered from his original testimony that Ryan Ferguson committed the murders with him.  He says that he doesn’t even believe either of them were at the scene of the crime.


The janitor, Jerry Trump, who originally identified Ryan as a suspect, has since recanted his testimony stating that the prosecutor showed him a news article about Ferguson and asked him if he was the boy he saw.  The prosecutor also assured him that Ryan was guilty and they just needed a positive verification.  Once again, possible “mental” tampering.


There is tampering of evidence and then there is tampering of a mind.  I’m not sure they are much different, especially when the judicial system considers witness testimony as highly as actual evidence in cases like this.  If evidence is tampered with, then it is deleted from the trial.  If a witness is “tampered” with during interrogation, then shouldn’t their testimony also be deleted from the trial?  Especially, if there is video evidence of the aggressive interrogation of a minor, in this case Charles Erickson?


Ferguson was recently denied a retrial.  If you have any information on this case, there are contact links here.


I believe Ryan Ferguson should be exonerated.  There is no evidence.  He has wasted almost 9 years of his life in jail.  This case is now based on the perjured testimonies of two individuals, who have both recanted their statements that Ferguson committed the crime.  Why is he STILL in jail?


Please “like” and “share” the Free Ryan Ferguson fan page on Facebook to spread the word about this case.  If this was your son wouldn’t you do everything in your power to free him?  Put yourself in Ryan Ferguson’s parent’s shoes and sign the petition for a retrial or for his freedom.




  1. I’ve seen this on Dateline more than once. As a parent, it scares the life out of me. I have to wonder where this whole case would be if Attorneys were involved from the start. Begging the question: is the justice system based in a desire to do the right thing, or is it mostly a chess game amongst attorneys. And if you don’t have one, are you playing with your eyes closed. I appreciate the passion of this post, I’ll like the FB page.

    Comment by Karen @BakingInATornado — December 7, 2012 @ 3:28 pm
  2. RE: “Thanks to a great defense team, Damien Echols’ wife and many celebrities, the West Memphis Three were exonerated.”

    I hope people realize that it’s not just the money of celebrities that got these three men released from prison. Yes, they played a part, but the larger thanks should go to the thousands of regular people who never gave up on Damien, Jason or Jessie. This myth that it was all thanks to the celebrities seems to be the popular idea about why the West Memphis Three are now free, but there was a huge, world-wide WM3 support community working very hard, selflessly and tirelessly to keep this case in the public eye, documentary films, fundraisers, benefits and countless other efforts, concerts, art shows and lots of money and time that was generously donated by amazing people who are NOT millionaires. This case was kept alive for almost 2 decades by regular people who were outraged – the celebrities came later. The regular people who helped Free The West Memphis Three have been all but forgotten in the media hype around Johnny Depp and Peter Jackson et al, but I want everyone to know that you DON’T have to be a millionaire celebrity to make a difference. It was kids donating their lunch money, everyday people creating fundraisers and average people talking and writing and singing about this situation without ever giving up or losing hope that made the real difference. If not for them, the celebrities would never have heard of the case, and they wouldn’t have had anywhere to go for information about it. Please understand that no matter who you are or how rich or famous you are, if you want to make a positive change with a case like this, you CAN make a difference.

    Comment by Not a celebrity — December 7, 2012 @ 7:43 pm
  3. You are absolutely right. I didn’t intentionally leave out all of the people who made it possible. I’ve made an edit to the post. I am another non-celebrity trying to help this kid. Thanks!

    Comment by Mommy Unmuted — December 7, 2012 @ 8:02 pm
  4. I think that what you are doing is great. It’s scary to think that one person can say whatever they want and cause someone else to be found guilty of something.

    Something similar has happened to me. It wasn’t murder, I didn’t go to jail. But I was fired. And my accuser later recanted her “hearsay”.

    I will like the FB and share it.
    The Insomniac’s Dream recently posted..Twas an Insomniac’s ChristmasMy Profile

    Comment by The Insomniac's Dream — December 7, 2012 @ 8:44 pm
  5. Thank you! I believe every bit of support WILL make a difference in the end for Ryan :)

    Comment by Mommy Unmuted — December 7, 2012 @ 8:47 pm
  6. Just wanted to thanks to Mommy Unmuted for posting the comments about Ryan’s case. And….I so agree with Not a Celebrity and the comments about the hard work and dedication of so many ordinary people who want to take part in trying to right a terrible wrong. What a perfect world we would live in if every soul felt this way and stepped up to the plate to speak out about injustice or whatever issue stirs their heart. I cannot imagine where we would be today if it weren’t for the outpouring of support we have had from people all over the world who want to help us in our quest to free our son. These people do not do what they do in order to receive recognition. They do it because they can imagine themselves in someone else’s shoes having to deal with a similar situation on their own. It’s called empathy. Stepping up…speaking out…when there is something that stirs you. To me, this is heroic! There is no way we can ever truly show our appreciation and gratitude to all those who have reached out to us as a family, whether through an email, facebook post, contribution, letter to the governor or AG, posting on blogs, designing and posting Free Ryan bracelets, t-shirts, flyers, billboards, web designs,helping spread word to others, etc. But we marvel every single day at the number of amazing people out there who chose to put someone else before themselves by offering their help in whatever way they can. These people have renewed our faith in our fellow humans. We are so honored by each gesture. Thank you! We are humbled by your desire to help.

    Comment by Leslie Ferguson — December 8, 2012 @ 3:57 pm
  7. This comment has me in tears. As a mother, I can empathize with the fear of the unknown you must be facing. I can also empathize with how much you must love and miss your son. From your comment, I can see that your hard work, appreciation and perseverance WILL ensure Ryan’s freedom. I eagerly await watching you reunite with your son.

    Comment by Mommy Unmuted — December 8, 2012 @ 4:30 pm
  8. I believe Ryan is innocent. It is a travesty of justice that Ryan is still being held, although there is not a single shred of evidence against him.
    I hope and pray Ryan is released as so many other innocent people are still in prison.

    Comment by Marion — March 31, 2013 @ 1:46 pm

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