MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Memphis Police officer is in jail after police say he confessed to killing a man while on duty. The city’s police director, however, is not yet answering questions about a murder involving one of his own officers on duty and involving a city police car.
Patric Ferguson, 29, is charged with first-degree murder, first-degree murder in perpetration of aggravated kidnapping, especially aggravated kidnapping, abuse of a corpse, and fabrication and tampering with evidence.
In a statement MPD posted to its Facebook page at 1:23 a.m. Sunday, the department said Ferguson had been arrested and immediately relieved of duty. An affidavit about Ferguson’s arrest is dated January 10.
FOX13 asked early Sunday morning to speak with Memphis Police Director Mike Rallings, but a spokeswoman said he is not available today. She has not responded to requests asking why he is not available to address the arrest of one of his officers accused of murder and using a city police car to commit the crime.
According to MPD’s release, police got a call Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. from a woman reporting her boyfriend Robert Howard, 30, was missing. The woman told police Howard was last seen in the 3500 block of Mark Twain Street around 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Investigators say the woman used an app to track Howard’s cell phone near Lamar and Shelby Drive. They say she found the phone, but not Howard.
Police said their investigation led them to determine Ferguson, who they say was on duty and armed with his own handgun, encountered Howard outside a home on Mark Twain Street and forced him into the back of his squad car. Police say Ferguson then drove to the area of Frayser Blvd. and Denver Street, where they say he shot and killed Howard. An affidavit says Ferguson shot Howard in the back of the car before moving the body to another location temporarily.
According to an affidavit, the search history of Ferguson’s cell phone revealed internet searches about cleaning up crime scenes and how to destroy DNA evidence. The affidavit says investigators found evidence Ferguson bought cinder blocks, chains and, padlocks that they said he later used to hide evidence. The affidavit also says investigators found a surveillance video that shows Howard being shot while Ferguson was on duty.
“No one is above the law,” Rallings said in a statement. “Knowing that a Memphis Police Officer, someone who took an oath to protect and serve, made the decision to commit this horrific crime is devastating. His actions were not that of a law enforcement officer and should not reflect on fellow officers.”
Ferguson’s arrest comes just days into a new year in which city leaders and residents had hoped they could put behind them a year of record-setting violence in Memphis. Rallings has said staffing is a big factor in his department’s ability to combat crime.
Police have also charged a second man in connection with Howard’s murder. They say Joshua Rogers, 28, an acquaintance of Ferguson, helped Ferguson moving Howard’s body after he was killed. Rogers is charged with accessory after the fact, abuse of a corpse and fabricating and tampering with evidence.
An affidavit says Ferguson admitted recruiting Rogers to help move the body Thursday. He also admitted that bloody towels found in his car were used to clean up the evidence, according to the affidavit. Police also said in the affidavit that Ferguson dumped Howard’s cell phone on Lamar. A search of a home on Mountain Ash led police to a .357 Taurus revolver they say Ferguson used to kill Howard.
Another affidavit says Rogers admitted his role in moving Howard’s body from the first location to Rogers’s home, where he told investigators he and Ferguson wrapped up the body and moved it to another location. Rogers said he then took his vehicle, which was used to move the body, and sold it at a scrapyard.
MPD announced that a body, believed to be the victim Robert Howard, was found Sunday near Second St. and the Wolf River bridge.
Ferguson was assigned to Tillman Station, MPD said. He had worked for MPD since 2018.