TERMINALLY ILL: Inmate’s Mom Urges Release

In 1994 Kristine Fetters brutally attacked and killed her great aunt.

Now in her 30’s, Kristine is dying of cancer behind bars and her family is fighting to allow her to take her last breaths as a free woman.

At just 15-years old, Kristina Fetters became the youngest Iowan ever to be sentenced to life in prison without parole.  Now, that sentence is almost over as her cancer takes hold.

Fetters was 14-years old when she was kidnapped and raped.  Her mother says the trauma from that experience thrust Fetters into depression.  She was eventually taken to Orchard Place, where her mother says she was medicated with antidepressants that caused homicidal hallucinations.

“She’d say look, look, there’s Johnny.  He’s laying on the floor.  There’s a knife in his head.  He’s bleeding. Somebody help him, somebody help him. And the teachers would try and re-direct her, you know, you need to get up here and finish your homework,” mom, Denise recounts.

On October 24, 1994, Fetters and her roommate escaped from Orchard Place and went to the home of Fetters’ great aunt, 73-year-old Arlene Klehm.  Fetters stabbed Klehm to death while shouting the name of the man who raped her.

She was tried as an adult, convicted when an insanity defense failed, and sentenced to life without parole.

Jamie Ross was Fetters’ cell mate for years.

In 1995, Ross was just 16-years old when she and five of her friends killed a man in what later became known as the lost planet murders.  Ross and Fetters grew up together in prison.

“When my mom was dying and I couldn’t be there for my mom, she was there to help me,” Ross says.

This week, a judge ordered a second chance for Fetters changing her sentence to allow for parole because the cancer is spreading so rapidly.

Today, Fetters is in hospice care at Mitchellville prison.  The cancer has spread throughout her body and has left her unable to walk.

Her friends and family want her to come home to die. They’re asking for that second chance now, “It’s a second chance but it’s a second chance to die with grace,” mom, Denise says.

The parole board meets again on December 5, but the family is pushing for an emergency meeting because of Kristine’s declining health.


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