The Ottumwa Courier

AP Iowa

December 17, 2013

Iowan convicted in death of daughter leaves prison

MITCHELLVILLE, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa woman convicted in the death of her 2-year-old daughter is out of prison after serving a fraction of her 50-year sentence.

Heidi Watkins, 43, was released Monday from the Iowa Correctional Institution of Women in Mitchellville, the Sioux City Journal reported ( ). The Iowa Parole Board granted her parole on Dec. 5.

Watkins was sentenced in December 2000 on one count of multiple acts of child endangerment in the Jan. 4, 2000, death of Shelby Duis. She had served nearly 13 years in prison.

A judge said prosecutors proved Shelby was injured on at least three occasions before her death. The girl's body was found in the Spirit Lake home Watkins shared with her boyfriend, Jesse Wendelsdorf, who was acquitted of murder and sexual abuse charges in a separate trial.

The newspaper reported Watkins was scheduled to complete her prison sentence on Nov. 19, 2022. Even the earned-time credit, which cuts 1.2 days off for every day served, would have had Watkins serving more than 22 years. But the parole board has the option to release an inmate earlier.

"I'm disappointed that the parole board has seen fit to release her at this stage," said Charlie Thoman, an assistant Iowa Attorney General who helped prosecute Watkins. "From my standpoint, I think anybody else familiar with the injuries and suffering Shelby Duis had to endure for the last two months of her young life would definitely believe Heidi Watkins should definitely spend much longer in prison than she has."

Michael Johnson, a Spirit Lake attorney who represented Watkins during subsequent appeals, said he was pleased with the board's ruling.

"She has spent a significant time in prison and, for lack of better terminology, has paid her dues," he said.

Iowa Department of Corrections spokesman Fred Scaletta said Watkins will be on parole and must check in with a parole officer until November 2022.


Information from: Sioux City Journal,

Text Only
AP Iowa
  • Iowa court gives green light to solar energy deals IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Supreme Court says a solar energy company can sell electricity directly to businesses and governments, giving a boost to the burgeoning form of renewable energy. The 4-2 ruling in favor of Eagle Point Solar could exped

    July 11, 2014

  • Officials find emerald ash borer in Henry County MOUNT PLEASANT, Iowa (AP) — Officials say larva found on a tree in Henry County has been identified as an emerald ash borer. A team that includes officials from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship said in a news release Friday tha

    July 11, 2014

  • Witness sought in Iowa deaths found in Wisconsin AKRON, Iowa (AP) — A man sought as a witness to the suspicious deaths of two elderly people in northwest Iowa has been found in Wisconsin. Authorities say 44-year-old Jonathan Neunaber was detained by police in La Crosse, Wisconsin, after he was stop

    July 11, 2014

  • Burlington moves post office due to sewage water BURLINGTON, Iowa (AP) — Burlington has relocated its post office services after sewage water flooded several feet of its current building. Post office spokeswoman Stacy St. John says the flooding and failure of a lift station caused 9 feet of sewage

    July 11, 2014

  • Iowa Supreme Court to decide solar energy dispute IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Supreme Court is expected to rule in a dispute over the future of solar energy in Iowa. The court expects to decide Friday whether solar energy companies can sell electricity directly to businesses and governments. Reg

    July 11, 2014

  • Judge again delays closing of Sioux City casino SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — A judge has granted another reprieve to the Argosy riverboat casino in Sioux City, The casino operator, Penn National Gaming Co., is appealing the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission's decision to close the casino. Polk County D

    July 11, 2014

  • Officials say Ames pool slides supports repaired AMES, Iowa (AP) — The slides at the Furman Aquatic Center in Ames have been repaired so they can be reopened to public use. Officials say the welding work was completed Wednesday on the structural supports for the drop slide and tube slides. Center o

    July 11, 2014

  • Davenport mayor wants city to help immigrant kids DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) — The mayor of Davenport wants area agencies to help Central American children who are fleeing their home countries, but some other city leaders aren't so sure that's a good idea for the city. Obama administration officials say t

    July 10, 2014

  • Jury finds Iowa man with cancer guilty in pot case DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa man who said he grew dozens of marijuana plants to help treat his cancer was found guilty Wednesday of drug charges. The jury deliberated just a few hours before returning the verdict for Benton Mackenzie in Scott Count

    July 10, 2014

  • Missouri man held after southern Iowa standoff MOUNT AYR, Iowa (AP) — A 51-year-old Missouri man has been talked into putting down a shotgun and surrendering to Iowa officers. The Des Moines Register says ( ) Randy Longstreath, of Bethany, Missouri, was arrested around 4:30

    July 10, 2014

AP National