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Ex-Cop Accused of Murdering Man in Back of His Squad Car and Dumping Body in River, As Investigators Uncover Shocking Details Through His Cell Phone Search History

A former Memphis cop now faces federal charges for allegedly kidnapping and murdering a man while he was on duty and throwing his body in a river.

A federal grand jury indicted Patric J. Ferguson, 32, on May 8 on eight counts of federal civil rights, kidnapping, and weapons offenses for the deadly shooting that took place in 2021.

Former Memphis cop Patric Ferguson, 32, is accused of abducting a man, fatally shooting him in the head, then throwing his body in a river. (Photo: YouTube/ABC24 Memphis)

Authorities say that on Jan. 5, 2021, Ferguson went to a home belonging to 30-year-old Robert Lee Howard and abducted him at gunpoint, according to Law & Crime. He forced Howard to the back of his squad car and shot him in the head.

The federal indictment states that Ferguson then enlisted the help of a man named Joshua Rogers to cover up the murder. Rogers has also been charged in connection to the murder.

He and Rogers allegedly chucked Howard’s body into the Wolf River in Memphis, then took the car used to transport the body to a scrap metal dealership to have it destroyed.

Howard’s girlfriend reported him missing the next day. On Jan. 10, 2021, authorities found Howard’s body. Ferguson and Rogers were arrested a few days later.

Investigators found search history on Ferguson’s phone about how to clean up crime scenes and destroy evidence, according to a probable cause affidavit obtained by the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

“Evidence was obtained showing Ferguson purchased cinder blocks, chains and padlocks at a hardware store which investigators later found were used by Ferguson to hide evidence,” the affidavit read. “Additionally, surveillance video was obtained by investigators which captured the shooting of the victim while Ferguson was on duty.”

A state grand jury charged Ferguson with first-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, tampering with evidence, abuse of a corpse, official misconduct, and official oppression.

The state also charged Rogers with accessory after the fact, abuse of a corpse, and tampering with evidence. Rogers also faces federal accessory and evidence tampering charges for allegedly conspiring with Ferguson to hide evidence of the shooting.

Police haven’t yet released their theory of a motive for the killing.

When Ferguson was arrested, he gave up his Miranda rights to stay silent and confessed that he went to Howard’s home, forced him into the back of his police car, and procured Rogers’ help to move the body.

Ferguson posted a $400,000 bond in June 2023 and is currently awaiting trial.

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