Columbia Tribune sports writer Michael Boyd was the last person to see Kent Heitholt alive. Boyd’s statements place him at the scene of the crime, and papers found next to Heitholt’s body also suggest that Boyd was at the scene at the time of the murder. Boyd covered high school sports and Columbia College athletics for the Tribune. A local High School basketball schedule and Columbia College basketball programs and schedules were found under Heitholt’s car. Heitholt did not cover high school or Columbia College athletics so he would have had no reason to be carrying those papers. It is much more likely that the papers belonged to Boyd.
It is reasonable to suggest that Boyd should have been the prime suspect, based on evidence immediately available to investigators. Oddly, Boyd was only interviewed twice by detectives shortly after the murder. Even more disturbing is the fact that Boyd gave conflicting information in his interviews that went completely ignored.
Boyd told the first detective that he walked out of the building shortly after 2:00 am on the night of the murder. Boyd stated that he spoke with a janitor named Mike Henry for five or ten minutes outside, and then saw Heitholt exit the building. Boyd told the detective that he then went over and spoke with Heitholt, as they both stood next to Heitholt’s car, before leaving the parking lot at 2:20 am. Boyd stated that he did not see anyone hanging around the parking lot and saw no suspicious activity.
Boyd told the second detective that he exited the northern door of the Tribune at 2:10 am. At that time he claimed to be sitting in his car adjusting the radio when he saw Heitholt come out of the building. Boyd told the detective that he pulled out of his parking spot and headed towards the building, rolling down his driver’s side window so he could talk to Heitholt.
The fact that Boyd confirmed he was at the scene, along with papers that likely belonged to him that were found under Heitholt’s car, should have led investigators to take a closer look. The fact alone that Boyd told two different stories shortly after the murder, should have given a strong signal to police that further investigation was needed.
Heitholt was Boyd’s supervisor at the Tribune. Due to the lack of investigation, according to Ryan Ferguson's civil lawsuit, it was not discovered early on that Boyd had a dispute with Heitholt shortly before the murder regarding a "major mistake" Boyd had made on an assignment from Heitholt.
Over the years, Boyd's story has changed multiple times. In a later interview, Boyd told defense investigator Jim miller that he went to his vehicle on the night of the murder and listened to a cassette tape. Only then did he see Heitholt exit the building. Boyd told Miller that he made a U-turn in the lot and pulled up to Heitholt and spoke to him through the passenger window. Boyd then said that he saw Heitholt get in his car and start to leave the parking lot.
Boyd also gave conflicting stories about the car he was driving that night. In February 2005, he told investigator Jim Miller that he was driving his blue Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera. In July of 2005, he told the prosecutor's investigator Bill Haws that he was driving his wife’s red Plymouth Acclaim. According to Citizens For Justice, attempts to locate Boyd’s blue Oldsmobile have been unsuccessful. Boyd claims he traded the car in to Enterprise Rent-A-Car in the mid-2000’s, however Enterprise has no record of the transaction, and as late as 2010, the Missouri Dept. of Revenue still has the car titled to Boyd.
Boyd suspiciously returned to the scene of the crime. He never mentioned this to anyone, but in a crime scene photograph he can be seen peering out from behind a door towards the location where Heitholt’s body was found. When questioned about his return to the scene, Boyd's response was even more troubling. Here is an excerpt from Ryan Ferguson's civil lawsuit:
"Boyd has admitted that when he arrived home after the murder, he immediately washed his clothes and put on a long-sleeved sweatshirt. Boyd has stated that he arrived back at the Tribune at approximately 4:15 or 4:30 a.m., and that when he arrived he saw Heitholt’s body face down. This is impossible, as Heitholt’s body was turned face up when he was discovered by other Tribune employees at approximately 2:25 a.m. The only other individual that knew how Heitholt’s body was originally positioned is the killer. Boyd has also stated that he saw paramedics and a lot of emergency lights at the scene when he arrived. However, the paramedics had left the scene long before 4:15 a.m. In fact, Defendant Nichols was called to the scene at 2:30 a.m., and the paramedics were already gone by the time he arrived."
Despite all of these contradictions, Boyd has never been considered a suspect. No investigation of any kind has been conducted. Boyd's house was never searched, his cars were never searched, no effort has been made to find his missing blue Oldsmobile, and Boyd's fingerprints and DNA have never been collected to do a comparison with evidence collected at the crime scene.
This website is certainly not accusing Michael Boyd of murder, but with the evidence currently available, it is reasonable to suggest that he has not been properly investigated.
Ryan Ferguson's civil lawsuit provides further details about Michael Boyd.