Iowa’s Longest-Serving State Prison Inmate Dies
Warren John "Jack" Nutter spent the last 65 years of his life behind bars at the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison. He was sent to prison in February of 1956, after pleading guilty to killing a police officer in Independence one month earlier.
On Wednesday at 11:01 AM, the 84-year-old Illinois native was pronounced dead. State corrections officials confirmed that Nutter died in a hospice room at the penitentiary, where he was being housed due to chronic illness.
Nutter was the longest-serving inmate in Iowa's prison system and the fifth longest-serving in the United States at the time of his death, according to the Officers Down Memorial Page (ODMP) website.
In a press release, Iowa corrections officials stated that "Nutter had been serving a life sentence for first-degree murder from Buchanan County." That's about the only information they released.
Who Did Nutter Kill And Why?
ODMP details more information about the crime, which Nutter committed when he was 18-years-old. According to the website, Independence police officer Harold Pearce arrested Nutter and four of his teenage friends following a short car chase. They were taken to the Buchanan County Jail for questioning.
During the procedure, Nutter was allowed to use the restroom. According to court records, he climbed through a window and grabbed a shotgun that was hidden inside the teenagers' confiscated vehicle. Nutter then walked back inside the building and tried to free his friends. Pearce was fatally shot in the chest while attempting to stop the jail break. The five teenagers escaped custody, but were all captured a short time later.
Nutter pleaded guilty to first-degree murder during his trial and was sentenced to hang. In 1957, then-Iowa Gov. Herschel Love commuted the punishment to life in prison.
According to a Des Moines Register story published in 2017, Nutter was the youngest person in Iowa to receive a death sentence. The conviction sparked outcry and eventually led to the ending of the death penalty in Iowa.
Sources: Officers Down Memorial Page, Des Moines Register