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A Missouri father and former bounty hunter has been arrested for murder 16 years after his disabled son disappeared.
Dawan Ferguson, 46, was charged Thursday with first-degree murder in the death of his 9-year-old son Christian, who disappeared in 2003. At the time, Ferguson claimed his car had been stolen with the boy sleeping inside, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Christian had a rare disorder that prevented his body from processing protein and was unable to walk or talk as a result of the medical condition.
Authorities allege that Dawan Ferguson failed to provide Christian with the proper medication and nutrition from Jan. 16, 2001 to June 18, 2003, according to a probable cause statement obtained by the local paper.
The 9-year-old was last seen leaving his Pine Lawn home with his father, who had full custody at the time, on June 11.
Ferguson later told police he had been talking on a pay phone on Page Blvd. when his SUV was stolen with Christian sleeping inside, local station KSDK reports.
The car was found two hours later about five miles away from where his father claimed he had been abducted, but Christian was not inside.
Christian would have died within 48 hours without receiving proper medication, according to court documents.
Authorities did not say what specifically led to Ferguson’s arrest after 16 years; however, St. Louis Prosecutor Wesley Bell said during a press conference last week that investigators had been reviewing the case for a few weeks and were looking at it with a “fresh set of eyes,” KMOV reports.
Investigators had long suspected Ferguson was involved in the disappearance after several inconsistencies were noted in his story and he stopped cooperating with authorities.
In the past, Ferguson maintained his innocence in the disappearance through his attorney.
As the charges were announced, the young boy’s mother Theda Person was also present and said she was feeling mixed emotions about the arrest.
“I knew that justice was on its way, but I’m in shock,” she said, according to The Post. “I feel supported and I’m excited. I’m a lot of different things right now because I don’t know how to be in this place, but I’m glad that I’m here.”
Christian’s body has never been found.
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