CLAYTON, Mo. — Theda Person looked at her ex-husband Tuesday from the witness stand and asked, “What did you do with our child Christian. Where is Christian?”
It’s a question she has been wondering since the 9-year-old special needs child disappeared while in her ex-husband Dawan Ferguson’s care in 2003.
A jury found Ferguson guilty in July of first-degree murder and abuse of a child resulting in death, even though the child’s remains have never been found. The conviction carries a mandatory life sentence without parole, but he still appeared before Judge Brian May to be formally sentenced Tuesday.
Prosecutors asked the judge – and he agreed – to have Ferguson’s life sentence for the murder run consecutively with a life sentence he was given Friday on an unrelated case.
In that case, a jury found Ferguson guilty of molesting two of his ex-wife’s relatives, impregnating one of them when she was 13 years old.
Ferguson blamed the victim in that case, claiming she impregnated herself with one of his used condoms because she was obsessed with him.
On Monday, Ferguson also spoke to the court. He went on for almost 40 minutes, calling his conviction a “miscarriage of justice” and blamed his ex-wife’s “vengeance” against him as the reason for his conviction.
He also accused her of physical abuse.
“Unfortunately, this case and trial has never been about my son,” Ferguson said. “The so-called investigation has only been about me due entirely to my son’s mother.”
Dawan Ferguson told police he stopped to make a phone call while taking his son to the hospital in 2003, and his truck was stolen while he was on the phone. He said before his truck was even found, his ex-wife was pointing detectives in his direction.
“Some think they do know what happened to my son and they are still walking free,” he said. “I’m not saying all of this to convince to persuade anyone.
“People have always asked me what did I do to this woman. This is an answer to that question. This is best I can do to account for why Theda has been pursuing me so relentlessly.”
Christian’s younger sister, Lin Ferguson, also gave a victim impact statement.
“I’m not enjoying this day as much as I should because Christian is gone,” Lynn Ferguson said. “The system, the doctors, the guardians, failed him.
“I wish torture were a thing because the death penalty and a life sentence doesn’t suffice. I wish you septillion deaths and torture of your soul.”
Judge Brian May said he did not hear anything about remorse or grief over the death and loss of his son from Ferguson’s speech.
“What I heard for 30 minutes is that Mr. Ferguson is a victim,” May said. “Not so much of the court system, but a victim of Ms. Person.
“While one could not take responsibility, one could express grief for the loss of a child.”
May then mentioned he recently lost his dog to kidney failure.
“She suffered from kidney failure, and when I’m listening to the testimony, he didn’t have the decency to do what we did for our dog,” May said. “This is a human being, a child.”
May said there are more victims beyond Christian of Ferguson’s crimes, including Lin Ferguson, who recounted years of abuse at the hands of her father.
“As this child laid in his bed and heard this child moan and cry, how traumatic,” the judge said. “I was getting sick hearing that.
“I can’t imagine what that would have been like as a child.”
Ferguson’s attorney, Jemia Steele, gave an explanation for her client’s lack of remorse.
“He didn’t show any remorse because he did not kill his child,” Steele said. “He wanted to get his story out there.
“Dawan has been the villain in this story. Within an hour of him going missing, instead of trying to find Christian, they’re looking at Dawan.”
Following the hearing, Person, her daughter and several other family members stood with St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell to answer reporters' questions.
Bell revealed that his office – with the blessing of Christian’s family – offered Dawan Ferguson a deal: A life sentence for the murder in exchange for information about where the child’s body was and/or who else was involved.
In response, Ferguson said he wanted Bell’s office to dismiss the sex crimes against him and be given credit for time served on his son’s murder.
“We walked out,” Bell said. “That just gives you a window into the monster we were dealing with.”
Bell said when Ferguson reaches 27 and a half years of his sentence, he will be sending him a letter reminding him he could have been out of prison had he cooperated and answered his ex-wife’s question.