Columbia Police Department to continue Kent Heitholt murder investigation

Once convicted for the crime, Ryan Ferguson was released from prison Tuesday

Columbia police release statement on Ryan Ferguson

COLUMBIA, Mo. - The Columbia Police Department and Chief Ken Burton released statements Wednesday, saying they respect a court's decision to free Ryan Ferguson, but are pursuing with the Kent Heitholt murder investigation.

Ferguson was released from prison Tuesday after spending nearly a decade behind bars for the 2001 murder of Heitholt, the Columbia Daily Tribune sports editor.

A Missouri appeals court overturned Ferguson's murder and robbery convictions. The appeals panel said the prosecutor's office had withheld evidence from defense attorneys and that Ferguson did not receive a fair trial.

On Wednesday, CPD said it would continue to investigate any new leads it receives in Heitholt's murder.

Later in the day, Chief Burton released a second statement, saying the department is still reviewing available options.

"The Columbia Police Department Has received multiple inquiries regarding the status of this case," said Burton. "The Department is reviewing the available options internally as to how or whether or not to proceed with additional investigation and/or a review of the case. Once a decision is made, I will release additional information. As always, we will continue to accept new information from anyone who is willing to come forward."

The original statement from Columbia Police Department:

"The Columbia Police Department respects the ruling of the court and understands the department's role in the judicial process. As we have throughout the life of the case, we will continue to follow-up on any new leads or information that is brought to the department."

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