Iowa inmates used hammers to try to break out of prison, killed a nurse and correctional officer: official

Lorena Schulte and Robert McFarland both died of blunt force trauma to the back of the head

Lorena Schulte, a 50-year-old nurse, and Robert McFarland, a 46-year-old correctional officer, were killed Tuesday morning when two inmates at Iowa's Anamosa State Penitentiary attempted to break out of the prison with hammers and other tools. 

"Two public servants were taken from this world by an act that can only be described as pure evil," Iowa Department of Corrections Director Beth Skinner said at a news conference Wednesday. "It is my sincere belief that those involved in taking these lives will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law."

The two inmates, 28-year-old Michael Dutcher and 39-year-old Thomas Woodard, allegedly used hammers, a grinder and other tools they acquired through a work program at the prison in the escape.

28-year-old Michael Dutcher (left) and 39-year-old Thomas Woodard (right) have been charged with first-degree murder after they allegedly killed two staff members at an Iowa prison during an attempted escape. 

28-year-old Michael Dutcher (left) and 39-year-old Thomas Woodard (right) have been charged with first-degree murder after they allegedly killed two staff members at an Iowa prison during an attempted escape.  (Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation)

"Dutcher and Woodard attempted to escape by shattering glass in the break room within the infirmary," Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation Special Agent Richard Rahn said Wednesday. "By doing so, that allowed them access to the bars, and they then took a grinder in an attempt to grind away the bars in hopes to be able to escape through the window."

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Schulte and McFarland both died from blunt force trauma to the back of the head. 

Another inmate, McKinley Roby, sustained multiple skull fractures but was transported to a local hospital for treatment and is expected to survive. 

Lori Mathis, who works at the prison, was held for a short period of time against her will but was released when one of the inmates fled the break room. 

Both of the inmates have been charged with two counts of first-degree murder, as well as attempted murder and kidnapping. 

Dutcher had been at the prison since May 2015 and was scheduled to be released in April 2057. Woodard had been in the prison since January 2017 and was scheduled to be released in March 2029. Both inmates were previously convicted of robbery charges. 

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Anamosa State Penitentiary is a maximum- and medium-security prison that holds roughly 950 inmates. It's been the site of multiple assaults on staff members recently, but Tuesday's deaths mark the first time a prison employee has been killed by an inmate since at least 1975. 

"I call this event a tragedy because that is truly at the heart of what took place yesterday," Skinner said Wednesday. "Two wonderful people had their lives taken while simply trying to do their jobs here in Anamosa."