TERMINALLY ILL: Inmate’s Mom Urges Release

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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.


  • Justice

    So, now we don’t mean “Life in prison” when the prisoner is dying? She is getting good care from hospice and I am sure the family is able to be with her as much as they want to be.

      • MaryCannon Derisory Apodaca

        STOP thinking about the inmate and THINK about the family.
        The family NEEDS this time ….
        Were this your child would you be quite content to sit at her bedside in prison? Would you not want your child at home with you?

        HOSPICE.. what a JOKE… The care these people give isn’t even care on the outside of prison walls, let alone inside.

        I have had experience with this worthless agency twice and both times was a HUGE FAIL.

    • Jean Basinger

      Christina’s Mother is only able to visit her for one hour a week due to staffing shortages. There is no hospice program at the prison. She is in a single cell and prisoners take turns sitting with her.

  • Mike Cee

    While I sympathize with the family, Life in prison means just that, spending the rest of one’s life, including their dying days, behind bars.

    She should stay in prison until she’s taken out in a coffin.

  • shawna kilstrom

    Let her out. Have a plan or a Hospice House to go to where she will be monitored and family can sit with her.

    Hospice is a great service. I am sorry for the person who has had a bad experience twice. I should point out that the outcome is always the same and if death is a poor outcome then Hospice could be considered a bad experience. I am a Hospice nurse and love my patients and their families. My passion is comfort at end of life for patients and their families. No one should die with pain or symptoms that they want controlled.

  • connie sims

    Where do I sign to help her and her family have/find peace? What most of you don’t understand is her background and circumstances she went through as a child. Until YOU walk in her shoes YOU will never know! release her so that she can be LOVED in her last days!!!

  • keona campbell

    I am missing u keba i hope u get out so u can spend the last days with your family please dont forget me keba we all love you very much keona campbell

  • Cathy

    In my opinion you do the crime, do the time! If our prisons let out every inmate that has been determined to be dying why give anyone a life sentence. She made the choice to murder her aunt, her aunt didn’t ask to be murdered. KEEP HER IN PRISON WHERE SHE BELONGS!!!!!

  • Will

    She is where she should be. She was tried and convicted by a jury. She got more a chance than her aunt, who she murdered. She should die in prison just like every other inmate who is given life.

    At what point do we draw the line? How many more of these special requests are going to come from other inmates. It is a can of worms. She needs to serve our her sentence. That’s the way it works. Same for all, no deals.

  • Hildegard HamHocker

    Let’s release all the lifer’s who have something wrong with them. What is good for one , should be for all of them. In fact there are two houses on my street they can live in, right by the daycare and elementary school

  • mbrown

    life in prison. that was the penalty for her crime. do not let her out. many others have and will die of cancer while in prison, she chose that path.

    • Troy Hendrickson

      Really? What path is that? The one where all the adults in her life failed her? The one where she was raped? The one where she was put in an institution and most likely abused even further?

      Here’s a hint for you, God will not judge a child by the standards of adults when the adults failed the child to begin with.

    • MaryCannon Derisory Apodaca

      WHERE, has the Christian way gone? Can you NOT think of her family? This isn’t going to make any difference to her other than being with her family to her last breath. WHY PUNISH the family? Haven’t they lost and been punished enough? If this was YOUR child, would you not want her home in your keeping until she expires?
      I for one feel ALL terminally ill prisoners should be released to their families when death is imminent, if that is the desire of their families.

  • marlin mann

    If you ain’t been to an Iowa prison you have no room to talk they will let you rot in your cell not help you at all what she did was wrong but she was a baby and the things she has been through is horrific she is grown now and has changed I mean they let child molester and rappers out all the time this person was young when she did what she did. You mean you never done anything as a kid that you wouldnt do now get real let her come home and spend her last days with her family

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