October 25, 1994
Des Moines, Iowa
Kristian Fetters (14) beats and stabs her 73-year-old great-aunt Arlene Klehm to death during an attempted robbery
Fetters and 15-year-old Jeanine Fox walked away from their group home on October 25, finding their way to Klehm’s home. According to Fox’s testimony, Klehm was seated at the table when Fetters hit her great-aunt, first with a kettle then an iron skillet. While Klehm was dazed, Fetters attempted to slit her throat with a paring knife. Fetters then grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed Klehm in the back at least five times, according to the autopsy. Fox later testified Fetters chanted “Anthony, Anthony, Anthony” as she stabbed Klehm, though she did not know who Anthony was. Testimony from Fetters’ mother revealed his identity as the man who had raped Fetters at gunpoint when Fetters was 12.
After Klehm was dead, Fetters tried to gain access to Klehm’s safe but was unsuccessful. The girls then walked to a neighbor’s home to ask the neighbor to call police, and the girls showed the responding sheriff the crime scene, during which time Fetters “made some spontaneous statements indicating involvement in the crime.” She was soon arrested and charged, with Fox testifying against her. Fetters admitted to the attack but claimed the robbery and killing were not premeditated.
Fetters’ defense did not attempt to claim she had not killed Klehm but used her trauma from her rape and her young age to spare her from a stiff sentence, though the defense was unsuccessful. She was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.
In 2013, Fetters was diagnosed with stage 4 inoperable breast cancer and she was granted parole as a “compassionate release.” She was transferred to a hospice care facility and died on July 27, 2014.
Mogolov, Bill. “The Fetters I Knew.” The Des Moines Register. August 1, 2014
Rodgers, Grant. “Woman sentenced to life as juvenile released from jail.” USA Today. December 10, 2013. Accessed: October 25, 2019. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/12/10/iowa-woman-sentenced-to-life-released/3958547/
Eggen, Dan. “Teen in prison for life mourns her date on TV.” The Des Moines Register. June 12, 1997
Carothers-Kay, Anne. “Witness describes slaying of woman.” The Des Moines Register. December 15, 1995
Alex, Tom. “Alleged killer ‘like a daughter’ to slain woman.” The Des Moines Register. October 27, 1994