Iowa’s longest-serving prison inmate died at the age of 84

A man convicted of murdering a police officer in northeastern Iowa nearly 65 years ago saw his death sentence commuted to life imprisonment, according to Iowa corrective authorities.

According to Nick Crawford, a spokesman for the Iowa Corrections Bureau, 84-year-old Warren John Nutter was the state’s longest-serving prisoner. He died Wednesday in the hospice room of Iowa State Prison, where he was detained for a chronic illness.

Natter was sent to prison at the age of 18 after pleading guilty to the murder of 52-year-old independent police officer Harold Pierce in January 1956.

2017 Des Moines Register Story When Natter asked for the use of the toilet, Pierce said he was asking Nutter and four other teens about the gas station robbery at the sheriff’s office. Officials said he climbed through an open window, took a shotgun out of a car outside, and shot a piercing when police officers tried to stop the group from leaving. Nutter was captured 3.5 miles away.

Natter’s lawyer claimed he was 14 years old when he grew up in a broken house in Illinois and was sent to a juvenile training school for theft and counterfeiting. He was on parole when he shot the piercing.

He was hanged on February 10, 1956 and became a popular name in Iowa. Natter was the second youngest Iowa to be hanged, and opponents of the death penalty caught his case and drew public attention.

The register described Nutter as a “green bean type with green eyes and a pleasant smile,” with a tattoo of his old girlfriend’s name “Rin” on his right arm and a “death head tattoo” on his right arm. He read 200 books the previous year and was proud to offer to give blood to those in need of blood transfusions. He said he wanted his life to survive.

In 1957, Governor Herschel Loveless commuted the death penalty, stating that “the final decision depends on much higher authority than I do.”

It will take more than 60 years for Pierce’s daughter Barbara to tell her story to the register in 2017. She died afterwards.

From 2017: For 62 years, the daughter of a murdered Iowa police officer has kept her silence. Now she wants to talk about her father.

Des Moines Register reporter Chris Higgins contributed to this article.

This article was originally published in The Des Moines Register: Iowa Crime: Warren John Nutter, Iowa’s longest-serving prisoner, dies