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Nurse and guard were killed trying to stop escape from Anamosa prison

Iowa Department of Corrections director Beth Skinner


ANAMOSA — A Special Agent with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation says a nurse and guard killed at the Anamosa State Prison were struck in the head with a hammer by two inmates who were trying to escape.

Agent Rick Rahn identified them as registered nurse Lorena Schulte and correctional officer Robert McFarland.

“The two individuals who are responsible for the heinous act — Thomas Woodard and Michael Dutcher. They were attempting to escape the facility and essentially Mr. McFarland and Miss Schulte interceded there and attempted to stop the escape and subsequently received the injuries that they did,” Rahn says.

Schulte died at the prison and Woodard died on the way to the hospital. The two men broke the glass from a window in the breakroom and then used a grinder taken from the prison work program to try and cut through the bars outside.

“As this event was taking place, a staff member, Lori Mathias, attempted to assist and render aid to her fellow employees. And in doing so, she was grabbed by Dutcher and Woodward was present during this time. Mathias was told that she would be next if she didn’t cooperate and she was held against her will,” Rahn says.

Another prisoner — McKinley Roby  also tried to help stop the escape. “Mr. Roby certainly did everything he could to save those two,” according to Rahn, “and I will tell you that both Miss Schulte and McFarland are heroes, they’re heroes. They did everything they could to help each other and by their actions, they were able to save miss Mathias’ life.”

Rahn says this was not a spur-of-the-moment escape attempt. “It had been planned for some time. Those details I am not going to get into, but it had been planned for some time,” He says.

Rahn says they are continuing to investigate to see if there was anyone else involved in the escape attempt. The two prisoners face two counts of first-degree murder, attempted murder, and second-degree kidnapping.

The 28-year-old Dutcher started serving a 50-year sentence for first-degree robbery, second-degree robbery, and other charges. He arrived at the prison in May of 2015 and was not to be released until 2057. Woodard is serving a 25-year sentence for first-degree robbery and burglary. He entered the prison in 2017 and his release date had been 2029.

Iowa Department of Corrections director Beth Skinner called the attack pure evil.  Skinner also spoke during the news conference held on the sidewalk outside the prison. “Two public servants were taken from this world by an act that I only can describe as pure evil,” Skinner said. Skinner said an internal investigation is underway to determine exactly how the inmates were able to acquire tools from a work program inside the facility.

“Those involved in taking these lives will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” Skinner said. Prison employees and residents of Anamosa gathered in the street and in front of the houses across the street from the prison to listen to the news conference.

“Please keep the men and the women of Iowa Corrections in your thoughts,” Skinner said, pausing as her voice cracked and a woman nearby yelled: “Say their names: Robert McFarland and Lorena Schulte.”

Schulte, was 50 and McFarland was 46. “To have these two people taken from us in an act of senseless violence is nothing short of tragic,” Skinner said. Schulte had worked at the prison since 2007. McFarland had been a correctional officer at Anamosa since 2008.

The prison is currently on lockdown as they continue to investigate and determine when it is safe to reopen.

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