2 Charged in Mo. Sports Editor’s Slaying in 2001

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(AP) Two men were charged in the murder of Kent Heitholt, the former sports editor at the Columbia Daily Tribune.

Heitholt, 48, was strangled and beaten to death on Nov. 1, 2001, in the Tribune’s parking lot.

Ryan W. Ferguson, 19, was charged with first-degree murder and first-degree robbery. Charles Timothy Erickson, 19, was charged Wednesday with second-degree murder and first-degree robbery. The suspects’ hometowns were not released.

Both men were arrested by the Columbia police department, which said more information would be released at a news conference Thursday.

About 2 a.m on the night of the slaying, Heitholt and a colleague went to their cars, where a stray cat was scratching Heitholt’s tire. Heitholt had a habit of keeping cat food in his car for the stray.

The colleague shared a joke with Heitholt before driving away. Minutes later, a Tribune custodian noticed a commotion by Heitholt’s car, and saw two men walking away. The custodian alerted other sports writers, who called 911, then found Heitholt face down in a pool of blood.

Heitholt died at the scene.

A nearby bank’s security camera picked up an image of two men walking quickly past at the time of the murder, and witnesses provided a vague description of two white males seen at the scene.

Police conducted hundreds of interviews and followed hundreds of tips in the years since the murder, but they had not yielded a break in the case until Wednesday’s arrests.

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