ANAMOSA, Iowa – State authorities identified the two Anamosa State Penitentiary employees killed during an attempted escape from a ground floor breakroom close to the prison infirmary.
According to the criminal complaint, Inmates Michael Dutcher, 28, and Thomas Woodward, 39, assaulted Lorena Schulte, 50, a nurse at the prison, and Robert McFarland, 46, a correctional officer, with hammers as the two employees attempted to stop their escape. Both were pronounced dead on the scene. According to the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), the men were able to access hammers through the work program where they had tools.
McKinley Roby, an inmate, was also assaulted. He was transported to the University of Iowa Medical Center with multiple skull fractures and is in stable condition. Another prison employee, Lori Mathis, who walked into the break room was detained by Dutcher and Woodward and threatened with assault. She was later released unharmed.
DCI said the inmates attempted to escape by breaking the class of the breakroom’s window and then cut through the bars with a grinder. DCI Special Agent in Charge Richard Ron said that the escape had been planned “for some time.”
Dutcher and Woodward are charged with two charges of first-degree murder, attempted murder, and second-degree kidnapping.
Dutcher was previously sentenced to 50 years for two counts of first-degree robbery, second-degree robbery, and other charges. Woodward was previously sentenced to 25 years for first-degree robbery and first-degree burglary.
If convicted of first-degree murder, the sentence is life without the possibility of parole.
Beth Skinner, director of the Iowa Department of Corrections, remembered those who were lost.
“I call this event a tragedy because that is truly at the heart of what took place yesterday, two wonderful people had their lives taken while they’re simply trying to do their jobs here in Anamosa,” she said during a press conference on Wednesday afternoon. “One, an officer whose mission was to help keep this facility safe, in order for men here to have a safe and rehabilitative environment. To have these two people taken from us in the act of senseless violence is nothing short of tragic.”
According to Skinner, the last time an Iowa Department of Corrections staff member was murdered was in 1975.
Gov. Kim Reynolds discussed the attack at her press conference on Wednesday morning.
“Yesterday at the Anamosa State Penitentiary, two correctional facility employees tragically lost their lives with attacks. I’m going to ask all Iowans to join me in lifting up their grieving families, friends, and colleagues in prayer. It’s hard to understand, such a senseless loss, but it’s my hope that the prayers of our state may offer some sense of peace and comfort during this difficult time. I also want to recognize the leadership and the staff at the Anamosa facility, and the Department of Corrections. This is an extremely difficult situation. You’ve lost two of your own. And I want you to know that all of us stand united and ready to support you. I also want to acknowledge and thank the Department of Public Safety’s Division of Criminal Investigation, whose team is on the ground, and working hard to ensure that justice is realized,” she said.
The Iowa Department of Corrections and Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation continue to investigate.
Read the criminal complaint below:Affidavit Attachment A
Listen to the press conference held with officials with the Iowa Department of Corrections and Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.