Press release from Investigation Discovery, Aug. 9, 2016:
In 2005, Ryan Ferguson was convicted of murder and sentenced to 40 years in prison based on the shocking testimony of his friend Charles Erickson, who claimed to witness the brutal murder in his dreams. Directed and produced by Andrew Jenks, DREAM KILLER tells the gut-wrenching story of every parent’s worst nightmare – following Bill Ferguson’s 10-year campaign to prove his son’s innocence. A selection of the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival, DREAM KILLER reveals the very worst and best of the American judicial system, aptly premiering exclusively in North America as part of Investigation Discovery’s (ID) ID FILMS documentary strand on Sunday, August 14 at 8/7c.
“It seems impossible that a dream could be enough to convict someone for murder in an age when forensics and technology are on justice’s side,” said Henry Schleiff, Group President of Investigation Discovery, American Heroes Channel and Destination America. “Echoing the heartbreak and conflicting emotions of Serial and Making a Murderer, DREAM KILLER illuminates a very dark corner of our justice system where a true nightmare like this took place.”
Footage from the Ferguson family archive is interspersed with poignant interviews with key people at the center of Ryan’s trial that reveal both a highly flawed justice system, as well as one that can work brilliantly. Hear from Ryan’s high-powered Chicago attorney Kathleen Zellner – now in the spotlight as Stephen Avery’s new defense attorney; the questionable District Attorney-turned-Judge Kevin Crane; Chuck Erickson, who not only confesses to a murder based on a dream but also charges that his former classmate and friend, Ryan, was his co-conspirator; and Bill Ferguson, who is not only a father but a best friend to Ryan as he uses his relentless investigation skills and outlandish creativity to give his son a shot at freedom.
ABOUT THE CRIME
Sports news editor Kent Heitholt was found beaten and strangled shortly after 2 AM on November 1, 2001, in the parking lot of the Columbia Daily Tribune. The murder went unsolved for two years until police received an anonymous tip about a man named Charles Erickson, who could not remember the evening of the murder and was telling people he was concerned that he may have been involved. Erickson was interrogated by police and, despite initially seeming to have no memory of the evening of the murders, he eventually confessed and also implicated his friend Ryan Ferguson, who he had been partying with that night. Ryan was convicted in the fall of 2005 on the basis of Erickson’s testimony as well as the testimony of a building employee. Both witnesses later recanted their testimony, claiming they were coerced to lie by the police. The conviction was eventually vacated on November 5, 2013, by the Western District of the Missouri Court of Appeals, and Ferguson was released on the evening of November 12, after he spent almost a decade in prison. In a special premiere event, DREAM KILLER premieres on Sunday, August 14 at 8/7c as part of the ID FILMS strand, the television home for projects that shine a light on important, overlooked aspects of our justice system and showcase compelling stories of mystery, intrigue, and determination. DREAM KILLER is directed and produced by Andrew Jenks with Daniel Zinn and Brendan Crane as executive producers and Chip Rosenbloom and Dylan Ratgan as producers. For Investigation Discovery, Liz Massie is executive producer, Sara Kozak is senior vice president of production, Kevin Bennett is general manager, and Henry Schleiff is Group President of Investigation Discovery, American Heroes Channel and Destination America.