MO v. Ferguson: Missing Son Murder Trial

Posted at 1:11 PM, June 24, 2022 and last updated 11:30 PM, July 1, 2022

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (Court TV) — A St. Louis man on trial for his son’s death nearly 20 years after he went missing has learned his fate. Dawan Ferguson has been found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of his special needs 9-year-old son, Christian.

 

Christian, who had a rare genetic disorder that prevented his body from processing protein, was last seen June 11, 2003, according to an indictment. His condition required specific nutrition and medication that without, he “would likely have died within 48-72 hours.” Investigators allege Ferguson withheld proper care from Christian for nearly two years before he disappeared.

According to local news reports, Ferguson called police from a payphone on June 11, 2003, claiming he had been carjacked and Christian was in the stolen vehicle. The vehicle was later recovered but Christian, who could not walk or talk, has not been found.

DAILY TRIAL HIGHLIGHTS

DAY 5 – 7/1/22

DAY 4 – 6/30/22

  • State Witness #27 – Dr. Dorothy Grange, Christian’s Physician
    • Christian’s doctor since he was three days old
    • Christian was admitted at the hospital at noon in January 2001
    • Ferguson called Dr. Grange regarding Christian’s condition
    • He weighed 57 pounds in 2001 and in 2003 he weighed 50 pounds
    • Hospitalized 6 months after the coma
    • Missed appointments after released from the hospital
    • Home nurse transported Christian to the hospital in 2003 – Ferguson did not attend appointment
    • Refilled 30-day supply prescription
    • Never saw Christian after the last appointment
  • State Witness #28 – Santana Contreas, Monica Mitchell (Ferguson) Former Co-Worker
    • Worked with Monica Ferguson at The Avenues
    • Changed her name in 2014 and moved to Arizona
    • Dawan and Monica ask her to become part of their relationship
    • Met with the Fergusons on three occasions
    • Third visit – Dawan confessed to murdering Christian – dead before the 911 call
    • Ferguson told her his stepfather was a powerful white man who could bail him out
    • Christian body is in the foundation of a house
    • Reported sexual harassment to a supervisor
  • Defense Witness #1 Sonya Willis Borden, Monica Mitchell, and Santana Contreas’ Co-Worker
    • Worked at The Avenues with Monica Ferguson and Sheree Holder
    • Never had a conversation with Sheree about Christian
    • Sheree filed a sexual harassment complaint
    • Allegations Dawan and Monica approached her about a three-way relationship
    • Fergusons would leave gift backs of lingerie and sex toys
  • Defense Witness #2 Monica Mitchell (Ferguson), Dawan Ferguson’s Ex-Wife
    • Married to Dawan Ferguson
    • Never saw Dawan administer food or medication to Christian
    • Mitchell and Ferguson had an open relationship
    • Claims she doesn’t know Sheree Holder or Santana Contreas
    • Never confessed to a crime or murder
    • Christian never left at home alone
    • Christian was never taken to the tv room on June 10
  • Defense (Recall) Witness #3 Liza Ludovico, Special Agent, FBI
    • Interviewed DaShonda Linwood, Monica’s daughter
    • Linwood never told her about Christian’s appearance or skin color
    • Then-Connor never mentioned a struggle in the tv room
  • Defense Witness #4 Dion Dupree, Witness to Car Theft
    • Mother dropped him off at day camp near the crime scene area at 6 am
    • 10 years old in 2003
    • Saw SUV taking off
    • Saw the video next on the news
    • State challenges him on this deposition
    • Jemia Steele represented his brother Ja’Vonne Dupree in a quadrupled homicide
    • Dupree asked to return to the courtroom – as he was leaving, he motioned to the defense attorney and mouthed the words to call him
    • Dupree claims he asked Steele to call him a Uber
    • The state implied that the defense may have promised him something for his testimony
    • Judge May threatened to place him in jail – ultimately telling him to leave and call for his own Uber
  • Defense Witness #5 John Rogers, Ferguson’s Former Attorney
    • Represented Dawan Ferguson after his arrest
      Interviewed then-Connor at 12 years old
      Read transcript of then-Connor’s Interview
  • State Rebuttal Witness #1 Ron Goldstein, Criminal Investigator, St. Louis Cunty Prosecutor’s Office (Retired)
    • Interview Dion Dupree in 2018
    • Did not see a red car speeding away
    • Did not see a red SUV speed away
    • Remembers a tan or gold Malibu parked behind the summer camp he attended in 2003
    • Never seen the car before
  • WATCH: Missing Son Murder Trial: Day 4
  • WATCH: Missing Son Murder Trial: What We Learned Today

DAY 3 – 6/29/22

  • State Witness #22 – Liza Ludovico, Special Agent, FBI
    • Prior medical training background – emergency room nurse
    • Obtained a state search warrant to search for medical records, prescriptions and supplies, and evidence of foul play
    • Christian and Connor’s room had a strong urine smell
    • Seized formula, g-button, other medical supplies, and trash outside the home
  • State Witness #23 – Lin Ferguson, Christian’s Sister
    • Describes Christian as thin after his coma – could see pelvic bones and notches in his spine
    • Remember playing games with Christian before 2002
    • Christian was tied to the bed with a comforter around his waist
    • Christian was left alone at home – one memory was the house was completely dark, and the family went to stay in a hotel for the night
    • Lived in sqawler – remembers trying to clean Christian and put clothes on him
    • On June 10, 2003, Christian’s g-button was missing – she remembers trying to look for it
    • Blood visual where the g-button was installed
    • Ferguson came to the room and removed Christian, and took him to the tv room
    • Heard Christian moaning and then a struggle
    • Ferguson brought Christian back to the room – Monica was crying and looking at Christian
    • WATCH: Missing Son Murder Trial: Victim’s Sister Testifies
    • WATCH: Missing Son Murder Trial: Victim’s Sister Testifies, PT2
  • State Witness #24 Martha Finnegan, Supervisory Child Interviewer, FBI
    • Seven Phases Interview Child Victims or Witness to a Crime – Report, Establishing an Introduction, Ground Rules, Conducting Interview, Introducing the Topic, Free Narrative, Questions, and Clarification
    • Script Memory – Script memory refers to an abstract general memory for the typical activities that occur during routine events (e.g., eating at a restaurant)
    • Episodic Memory – Episodic memory is the memory of everyday events that can be explicitly stated or conjured. It is the collection of past personal experiences that occurred at particular times and places, for example, the party on one’s 7th birthday.
    • Jurors watched FBI interview CF in 2003
  • State Witness #25 Dashonda Linwood, Monica’s Daughter / Ferguson’s Stepdaughter
    • Christian was thin, and his skin was pale
    • Dawan and Monica would leave Christian in his room – didn’t want to be bothered
    • Saw Dawan take Christian out of the home between 2 or 3 in the morning
    • Christian’s face was covered
    • Ferguson told Linwood to go back to jail
  • State Witness #26 Ruth Todd Coleman, Children’s Teacher and Nanny/Ferguson’s Live-In Girlfriend
    • Ferguson told Coleman when she asked about Christian, “You know me. I had to do what I had to do.”
    • Wore a wire twice for the FBI
    • Tried to convince Ferguson to tell what happened to Christian
    • Lived with Dawan and Monica for a year
  • WATCH: Missing Son Murder Trial: Day 3

DAY 2 – 6/28/22

  • The state called 14 witnesses Tuesday who either helped care for Christian or assisted in his search after his disappearance. Plus, we heard from the woman who had a relationship with Dawan and Monica Ferguson
  • Melissa Heighman, the Head of Pharmacy at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, told jurors that Christian was supposed to get life-saving medications every 30-days
    • There were times when Dawan Ferguson wouldn’t pick up for 42 and 74 days at a time. Some of the medicines had not been picked up for an entire year
    • Christian needed the medications for his genetic disorder that prevented his body from processing protein. Heighman testified that without the medication, his body would slowly deteriorate as ammonia levels rose in his body, sending him into a coma or eventually killing him
  •  Mary Ellen Pennick, retired Family Court Mediator, said Theda Person wanted the judge to force Ferguson to restore her court-ordered visitation. She said Ferguson was “late for visits multiple times” and missed visits altogether
    • The retired director of the Heritage House testified that Dawan and his ex-wife Theda Person would meet at their facility for scheduled court-ordered visits. On one of the final visits, Ferguson seemed “agitated” and increasingly upset with how difficult it was to care for Christian
  •  Jemia Steele continued to end her questioning by noting how no one reported concerns about Christian’s well-being. The witnesses said they did not see anything that warranted contacting the police
  • We heard from the former lover of Dawan and Monica Ferguson. LaKisha Mayes, recently hospitalized and lost a portion of her memory, testified that the morning after Christian’s disappearance, the police questioned her about her connection with the Fergusons
    • Mayes lived with the couple for about two months, although she had a home just north of St. Louis
    • Dawan Ferguson offered to pay her mortgage and utilities to continue living with them in their home on Sylvan Place
    • Mayes said she lived in the basement and moved out after she and Monica did not mesh well. Prosecutors asked if she moved out because of Christian, and she replied, “no”
  • State Witness #7 – Barbara Flory, Heritage House Director
    • Fergusons met at the Heritage House for court scheduled visits
    • Stopped meeting at the facility on March 22, 2003
    • Dawan was late for visits with Theda
    • Seemed frustrated and told Flory that he was agitated taking care of Christian
  • State Witness #8 – Melissa Heighman, Pharmacist
    • Prescriptions for Christian would go uncollected for 42 and 74 days
    • One of Christian prescription was not picked up for one year
    • Live saving medication Christian needed to take daily
    • Without the medication, Christian would slip into a coma or die
  • State Witness #9 – Mary Ellen Pennick, Mediator Supervisor, St. Louis County Family Court
    • Judge Frawley told Ferguson to comply with his order for visitation for Theda
    • Ferguson upset that he need to comply with the order
  •  State Witness #10 – John Clobes, Custodial of Records, St. Louis City Police Department
    • Presented the 911 call where Ferguson reported his SUV stolen
  • State Witness #11 – Frederick Scott Wolf, Police Officer, St. Louis City Police Department
  • State Witness #12 – Officer Chris Creesy, Ferguson Police Department
    • Responded to a stolen vehicle located on Ronbar Lane
    • Found vehicle unlocked with keys in the ignition
    • Remembers seeing a bullet proof vest in vehicle
  • State Witness #13 – Murphy-Johnson, Resident of Ronbar Lane
    • Live with boyfriend and two children on Ronbar Lane where the SUV was located
    • Saw flashes of lights through her bedroom window and heard a screech
    • Lived on Ronbar for four years
    • Wanted to be helpful and provide information
  • State Witness #14 – Mark Ellis, Resident of Ronbar Lane
    • Lived on Ronbar with is wife and kids
    • Overslept for work and noticed an unusual vehicle parked outside
    • Not a neighbor’s vehicle
  • State Witness #15 – Jerome Dyson, Police Officer, St. Louis City Police Department
    • Visited Ferguson after Christian’s disappearance
    • Spoke with Monica and her two daughters
    • Christian’s room was tidy but had a strong smell of urine
    • Returned to speak with Monica after the vehicle was located on Ronbar Lane
  •  State Witness #16 – Donald Reynolds, Homicide Detective, St. Louis City Police Department
    • Located LaKisha Mayes vehicle on Page Boulevard
    • Had vehicle photographed and towed
    • Plastic bags filled with clothing in the car
  •  State Witness #17 – Matt Hanewinckel, St. Louis City Police Department
    • Met with LaKisha Mayes
    • A black folding knife and police type flashlight found in car that did not belong to her
    • Clothes in the plastic bags did not belong to Mayes
  • State Witness #18 – Joseph Laime, Production Manager, Fox 2 St. Louis
    • Gave police raw news footage of LaKisha Mayes’ car parked on Page Boulevard
  •  State Witness #19 – LaKisha Mayes, Friend (Former Lover) of Dawan and Monica Ferguson
    • Lived on Disco Drive – 1.9 miles from where the vehicle was located
    • Stayed at the Ferguson home for two months
    • Moved out because she didn’t get along with Monica
    • Ferguson offered to pay her mortgage and utilities
    • Mom and girlfriend Tene had spare keys to her vehicle
    • Bags of clothes was not in her car before it was moved from her home
  •  State Witness #20 – Robert Thomure, Police Officer, St. Louis City Police Department (Retired)
    • Visited Ferguson’s home at the request of Dawan’s former attorney
    • Photographed and videotaped the home and removed some items before police and the FBI searched the home
  •  State Witness #21 – Harry Howell, Primary Investigator, St. Louis City Police Department
    • Nothing out the ordinary with the home
    • Strong smell of urine in Christian’s room
    • Electronics retrieved from SUV
    • Requested a search warrant for the home on Sylvan
    • Subpoena Metro One Investigators for all videos, photos, and contents taken from home
    • Christian’s G-Tube located on the porch by the FBI
    • Ferguson has never confessed
  • WATCH: Missing Son Murder Trial: Day 2

DAY 1 – 6/27/22

  • Prosecutors believe Dawan Ferguson planned an elaborate scheme to cover the death of his son in June 2003
    • Ferguson told police that his 1999 Ford Expedition was stolen as he was making a phone call at a payphone on the way to taking Christian to the hospital
    • Instead, the state believes that Ferguson killed Christian and then disposed of his body in an unknown location
    • “Christian Ferguson has never been recovered, but the evidence will show that he was never missing,” prosecutor John Schlesinger said
    • Dawan Ferguson was arrested in October 2019 for first-degree murder in Christian’s death
    • His son was born with a rare disease that prevented his body from breaking down protein
    • Christian would not have survived after 48-hours without his medication when he disappeared
    • Jamia Steele, Ferguson’s defense attorney, said he was a loving and caring father and did not kill his son
    • She went on to say that Theda Person, Christian’s mother, despised and hated Ferguson because he had sole custody of their children
    • Schlesinger told jurors they would hear testimony from one of Ferguson’s friends that he boasted “no one would ever find Christian’s body”
  • State Witness #1 – Theda Person, Christian’s Mother
    • Visited her children 3 Saturdays out of the month for 6 hours
    • She took Christian to the hospital for her last visit with him – had to leave because her visit was over
    • Christian was underweight and showed signs of dizziness
    • Ferguson was told to resume visitation for Theda on June 14
    • Technical issue with marriage certificate – wedding annulled
    • Recorded conversation between herself and Lynn Ferguson (formerly known as Connor)
  • State Witness #2 – Trdell Day Overbey, LPN
  • State Witness #3 – Kimberly Nelson, LPN
    • Ordered Christian’s medication
    • Pharmacist told Nelson the prescription could not be filled because Christian had not been seen in a year
    • Reported neglect to her company
  • State Witness #4 – Loretta Grigsby, Former Employee of Apria Healthcare Group
    • Filled healthcare orders for Christians, including formula
    • 30 day supply would feed Christian for 30 days
    • Medicaid paid for Christian’s supplies
  • State Witness #5 – Nancy Brody, Clinical Dietitian
    • Assigned Christian’s case in March 2003
    • Contacted by the LPN regarding refills of Christian’s medication and formula
    • Christian missed doctor appointments and had not seen a doctor for the entire year of 2002
    • Weight decreased
    • Christian missed appointments after his prescriptions were reinstated
    • Dietary plan changed due to his weight loss
  • State Witness #6 – Sharon Williams, Christian’s Aunt
    • Ferguson contacted Williams in 2001 regarding Christian’s admittance to the hospital
    • Williams was asked for help to get Connor Ferguson to school
    • Ferguson and Christian were not at the hospital, and she waited 2 hours for them to arrive
    • In March 2003, Ferguson drove to Williams’ home and asked her to stop Theda from going through with another custody hearing
    • Ferguson told Williams that Theda wouldn’t see the kids “over his dead body”
    • Williams was the mediator between Dawan and Theda
  • WATCH: Missing Son Murder Trial: Day 1
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