Loved ones of workers killed at Anamosa State Penitentiary pack courtroom for Dutcher sentencing

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 6:19 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - One of the men behind the murders of two workers at the Anamosa State Penitentiary in March pleaded guilty today.

Michael Dutcher faced two counts of murder in the first degree, one count of second-degree kidnapping and an attempted murder charge. Corrections officer Robert McFarland and Nurse Lorena Schulte were each killed as Dutcher and another inmate attempted to escape the prison.

During the hearing, Dutcher admitted to helping kill McFarland and Schulte, who both died after being hit in the head with a hammer. He also admitted to forcing another prison worker, Lorie Matthes, into a breakroom and holding her against her will so that she would not get in the way of the attempted escape. While in the breakroom, he admitted he hit an inmate named McKinley Roby with a hammer so he too would not get in the way.

The guilty pleas were made in front of a packed courtroom at the Jones County Courthouse, just an eyeshot away from the Anamosa prison and scene of the crime.

Dutcher was given the chance to say something in front of the room full of grieving friends and family members of those killed, but he told the judge he had nothing to say.

The same couldn’t be said for 11 loved ones who chose to give impact statements. McFarland’s wife, Sarah, told Dutcher he took a father away just one week before his youngest son’s birthday.

”I hate you more than anything for taking Robert from us. I hope you rot in hell. I love and miss Robert so very much and I will love and miss him for the rest of my life,” Sarah said.

Lorena Schulte’s sister Isabelle told Dutcher she is not the same person she was before her sister’s murder.

”I’ve never hated anybody, never. I have never hated in my heart like I hate you and I hate your friend. I hate the two of you and I hope, I hope somebody gets to you,” Isabelle said.

McFarland’s mother Cathie said her son’s death has forever changed her life.

”I will never be the person I was before that date. I will have to live the rest of my life with a different me. I will grieve for however long as it takes to regain my sense of peace. There will always be an empty space that can’t be filled,” Cathie said.

Schulte’s sister Gretchen said Lorena loved to be an aunt to her three nieces and nephew who she spent time with often.

”I had to tell my children, one of their favorite people in the world would never hold them. No more jokes, no more laughing, no more travel or exploring. They needed her, now they will live the rest of their lives wondering what could have been,” Gretchen said.

McFarland’s brother David also gave a statement.

”My little brother is my hero, and will always be my hero. The evil choice you made that day may have taken him from us but it cannot and will not erase all the good things he did, and our memories,” David said.

Schulte’s mom told the judge there is an eternal void without Lorena’s presence.

”Anything we do as a family from this point forward will now have to be experienced without Lorena. This is a loss for which we will never recover,” she explained.

McFarland’s son Colten told Dutcher he killed a man who spent his career trying to help others.

”He went to work not wanting the money, he went to help you guys. He went to help you,” Colten said.

Dutcher was sentenced to two life sentences, as well as up to 25 years on the other two charges. In exchange for his guilty plea, he requested to begin his sentence in Missouri. Dutcher has no chance at parole.

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