IOWA CITY, Iowa – A convicted murderer who is one of Canada's most wanted fugitives isn't hiding in Iowa after all.
Federal prosecutors in Iowa on Monday dismissed an arrest warrant sought by Canadian authorities searching for Susan Fife, who has been on the run since 2007.
The warrant, signed by a federal magistrate on Oct. 15, said the 55-year-old Fife was believed to be living in the area and "has been seen frequenting" the Catholic Worker House in Des Moines.
That information turned out to be erroneous. Kevin VanderSchel, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office, said late Monday that investigators have since determined the woman living in Des Moines is not the fugitive.
Fife was convicted of second-degree murder in 1979 in Calgary, Alberta.
Prosecutors say that she was working as a prostitute when she and two accomplices were hired to have sex with a client at his home. A fight broke out, and Fife and a male accomplice beat the client over the head with bottles and a lamp. Fife and one accomplice later doused the victim's body and home with gasoline and lit them on fire to try to destroy evidence.
Fife was sentenced to life in prison, with the possibility of parole after serving 10 years. She was eventually released but has been sought since 2007 for violating her parole conditions, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which features her on its website of wanted fugitives. The agency warns that she might be violent.
Canadian authorities sought Fife's arrest and detention under their extradition treaty with the United States. Court officials kept the warrant sealed until Monday, saying Fife would be likely to flee if she learned of its existence.
The mixup surprised one leader of the Catholic Worker House, which is known for helping feed the poor and promoting social justice. Frank Cordaro wondered whether prosecutors mixed up Fife with a homeless woman from Canada and frequently visits the home.
If federal agents came to check her out recently, they did not announce their presence, he said.
Follow Ryan J. Foley at https://twitter.com/rjfoley