Kent Heitholt's body was found next to his car in the parking lot of the Columbia Daily Tribune. The newspaper's sports editor was last seen by his colleagues shortly after 2 a.m. on Nov. 1, 2001. He was severely beaten with a blunt object, but the cause of death was strangulation.
Kent Heitholt was strangled with his own belt. The leather snapped, leaving the buckle and a fragment of the belt at the crime scene. The rest of the belt was never recovered. The crime scene left police stymied for more than two years before they arrested Charles Erickson and Ryan Ferguson.
The Columbia Police Department released a composite sketch based on interviews with Shawna Ornt, a janitor who saw two young men in the parking lot, one of whom she got a clear look at when he spoke to her before walking off.