Iowa woman convicted of 1993 murder while teen granted work release

WATERLOO, Iowa — An Iowa woman who was convicted in the 1993 stabbing death while she was a teenager was granted work release, authorities said.

Ruthann Veal, 42, who was a 14-year-old runaway when she killed a 66-year-old Waterloo woman, was granted the release after an interview Tuesday with the Iowa Board of Parole, The Courier of Waterloo-Cedar Falls reported. Veal had been denied parole in 2019, the Des Moines Register reported.

“This grant was in comport with the Department of Corrections who recommended that level of transitional release for Ms. Veal at this time,” Andrew Boettger, the vice chairman of the three-person board, wrote in an email.

Veal, of Mason City, was 14 when she fatally stabbed Catherine Haynes, a retired University of Northern Iowa librarian, in her own home in June 1993, The Courier reported. Veal took the woman’s car and credit cards and went shopping, the newspaper reported. She was detained days later in Cedar Rapids.

Veal was charged as an adult and was found guilty of first-degree murder. She was sentenced to the only punishment mandated under state law -- life in prison without parole, The Courier reported.

Veal has been in prison since 1995, according to the newspaper. She was the youngest woman in the state’s adult correctional system when she entered prison.

In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court barred automatic life sentences without parole for juvenile murderers, the Register reported. The Iowa Supreme Court later characterized the sentences as cruel and unusual punishment, the newspaper reported.

After a 2013 hearing in Black Hawk County District Court, Veal was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole, The Courier reported.