The young western Iowa woman, who set fire to her family’s home while trying to prevent her stepfather from molesting her, is on a parole board list to have her 45-year prison sentence commuted. Tracey Dyess was just 17-years-old when she set the March 31st, 2005, fire in Griswold, that resulted in the deaths of her two younger siblings.
Dyess said she set the fire with the intention of killing her stepfather, Brian Street. Dyess and her mother, Deborah Street escaped the flames, but 13-year-old Jessica and 6-year-old Caleb Dyess died in the blaze. Dyess pleaded guilty in November 2005 to two voluntary manslaughter charges, two counts of attempted murder and first-degree arson as part of a plea agreement.
Under the plea agreement, she has to serve at least 17 and a-half years in prison. Phil Roeder, a spokesman for Governor Chet Culver, says Dyess’ parole application is in the next group of five being reviewed and investigated by the parole board. After the Iowa Board of Parole wraps up its review and investigation, a process that could take three months or more, Governor Culver will have 90 days to decide whether to commute her sentence.
Dyess, who’s now 21, asked Gov. Tom Vilsack to reduce her 45-year prison sentence in November 2006. Vilsack didn’t take action before leaving office. Governor Culver can also seek her release or a reduction of her sentence at any time, but hasn’t done so since he took office two years ago. Dyess is being held at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women at Mitchellville, where her tentative discharge date is in 2035. Her mandatory minimum sentence expires November 5th, 2022.
If the governor takes no action, she would be eligible for parole only after that date, at the age of 35. Dyess reportedly has had no record of disciplinary problems while in prison.