The one ray of hope in all of this is that Ryan is now represented by Kathleen Zellner, who has obtained the exoneration of 10 wrongfully convicted men.
I’ve written stories from both sides of the crime, the guilty side and the innocent side, and I am, in fact, currently working on a novel about a family caught in circumstances similar to Ryan’s, where the son in the family is wrongfully accused. And something that has struck me just recently as I’ve watched Ryan’s father, mother and sister interviewed, is that regardless of which side the family is on—whether your child is the one who is guilty of the crime for which he or she stands accused, or innocent of it -- the expressions of shock and grief look the same. The tears on either side are the same. But somehow, when it’s your kid, when you know he’s innocent, I’ve got to believe that’s the harder, more difficult tragedy.
I admit to feeling as strongly as I do to some degree because I have two big, handsome sons like Ryan, too, who are near him in age, and I can scarcely allow myself to imagine the hellish nightmare this would be if it were one of them locked away for forty years and my family who was enduring the nightmare. My heart goes out to Ryan who is losing days of the freedom most of us take for granted for something he didn’t do. And my heart goes out to his parents and his sister, whose suffering is the collateral damage of this ridiculous and horrible mistake. But here’s the thing, I’m not sure when I’ve ever seen such courage and grace. Ryan bears no hard feeling, no ill will. He has even said something to the effect that anger won’t do anyone any good. He has managed to remain hopeful, although in the face of this latest denial of his appeal, he admits to feeling discouraged. Still, his demeanor is so calm and direct. He makes me proud to be a human being. In the end of every novel I write, I pose the question of forgiveness, whether it’s possible. Ryan Ferguson, and the way he’s handling what is an utterly unforgiveable situation with such courage, is the answer.
Please visit the website that is set up in his name here. Visit and “Like” his Facebook page, if, like me, after reading the facts, you can agree Ryan should be set free.