Skip to main content

Judge Hands Convicted Child Rapist Another Life Sentence, This Time for Murder of Special Needs Son

Dawan Ferguson and Christian Ferguson

Dawan Ferguson and Christian Ferguson.

For the second time in under a week, a 49-year-old Missouri father was ordered to spend the rest of his life in prison for ghastly crimes committed against young members of his family.

Circuit Court Judge Brian H. May on Tuesday sentenced Dawan Ferguson to life without the possibility of parole for killing his 9-year-old special needs son, Christian Ferguson.

It happened a matter of days after Circuit Court Judge Dean Paul Waldemer sentenced Ferguson to life plus 30 years in a separate case. That was on Friday. In that case, Ferguson was convicted of raping and sexually abusing two of his ex-wife’s minor children for more than a decade.

A St. Louis County jury in July convicted Ferguson of first-degree murder in the death of young Christian, who disappeared in June 2003 and whose body has never been recovered. Christian was later presumed dead; Ferguson was arrested and charged in 2019.

While a conviction on the count of first-degree murder carries a mandatory life sentence without parole, Judge May formally issued the sentence during a hearing on Tuesday. The proceeding was attended by several of Christian’s surviving family members, including his mother, Theda Person, who read a victim impact statement from the witness stand.

“What did you do with our child Christian. Where is Christian,” Person reportedly said during the proceeding, also referring to Ferguson as a “narcissist” and a “monster.”

As previously reported by Law&Crime, young Christian was last seen with his father leaving home on June 11, 2003. Dawan Ferguson later called 911 and told the dispatcher that a carjacker took his maroon 1999 Ford Expedition with Christian still inside the vehicle. The search continued for years to no avail.

The boy lived with a rare genetic blood disorder and struggled to process protein; the disorder severely limited his ability to walk and talk. Without his medications, doctors say he would have likely died within 24 to 72 hours.

Authorities in St. Louis County, Missouri, finally pressed charges against Ferguson in 2019 after finding inconsistencies surrounding his 911 call. For instance, a resident in the city of Ferguson said the SUV had been parked in the same spot from the time of the 911 call until the time the vehicle was eventually found. Ferguson also owned a cell phone at the time but made the 911 call from a pay phone, which officials said they considered to be suspicious.

Prosecutors also noted that Ferguson repeatedly failed to provide basic care for Christian, saying he heavily exacerbated the severity of the boy’s condition. Christian in 2001 slipped into a coma that left him unable to walk or talk and required the use of a feeding tube to eat.

Ferguson has maintained his innocence in both the murder and rape cases — despite one of the rape victims giving birth to his child when she was just 14. He addressed the court, speaking for more than 40 minutes prior to being sentenced during Tuesday’s proceeding.

“I am not motivated to say this because I’m trying to affect my sentence, but I do not stand to see how intentionally wrong they’ve got this and for how long Theda has been driving this train,” Ferguson said. “I never neglected my son. I love my son. I did not kill or murder my son, and the fact that I’m here today for this only shows how far this injustice has gone.”

Prosecutors responded by saying that Ferguson had shown “no remorse” in either of the cases where he was convicted. They requested that his murder sentence run consecutively to his rape sentence.

Judge May said that during the entirety of Ferguson’s address, he didn’t hear anything that resembled “grieving for the loss of a son.” He then said that the evidence showed Ferguson cared less for his child than May did for his own recently deceased family dog.

“She [May’s dog] suffered from kidney failure, and when I’m listening to the testimony, Mr. Ferguson did not have the decency to even do what we did for our dog. A dog,” May said. “This is a human being — his child. I’m talking about proper diet, going to a doctor.”

Watch the sentencing hearing here:

[image via St. Louis County Police Dept.]

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow Law&Crime:

Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.