ANAMOSA, Iowa — The two Iowa inmates who allegedly attacked and killed a registered nurse and a correctional officer during a failed escape attempt have been charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder and second-degree kidnapping.
Iowa Department of Corrections officials on Wednesday identified the victims in Tuesday’s deadly attack at Anamosa State Penitentiary and the two inmates who carried out an act of “pure evil,” Department Director Beth Skinner said at a news conference in front of the prison.
Registered nurse Lorena Schulte, 50, and correctional officer Robert McFarland, 46, were killed by blunt force trauma to the back of the head, investigators said at the news conference.
Michael Dutcher, 28, and Thomas Woodard, 39, were attempting to escape when Schulte and McFarland tried to stop them, Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation Special Agent Richard Rahn said. The inmates, who were both serving extended sentences for robbery, allegedly attacked them with hammers.
Authorities said Dutcher and Woodard attacked another inmate who tried to help the staff – he survived his injuries – and held another staffer hostage who tried to render aid, Rahn said.
“Two wonderful people had their lives taken while simply trying to do their jobs here in Anamosa,” Skinner said. “One, a nurse whose main mission was to help and heal our sick. 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 take from us in an act of senseless violence is nothing short of tragic.”
Woodard admitted to being in the room where Schulte and MacFarland were killed, and witnesses identified him as the killer, Rahn said. Dutcher admitted to his role in the killings, Rahn said. Dutcher was spotted by several prison employees running down a hall covered in blood, Rahn said.
The two inmates were able to acquire the hammers and tools to attempt the escape through a work program at the prison, Rahn said.
Dutcher is serving a 50-year sentence for robbery, ongoing criminal conduct and related convictions. Woodard is serving a 25-year sentence for robbery.
Rahn called Schulte and MacFarland heroes, crediting their actions for helping to save the third employee’s life. Schulte had worked in the prison since July 2007 and MacFarland since October 2008, Skinner said.
“Please keep the men and women of Iowa corrections in your thoughts,” Skinner said, her voice cracking, as onlookers yelled, “Say their names!”
Anamosa State Penitentiary is a maximum- and medium-security prison with about 950 male inmates and 321 staff, according to its website. Its 2019 annual report listed an average daily population of about 989 people. About 70% of the inmates were convicted of violent crimes and the average sentence being served is more than 25 years, according to the report.