A northwest Iowa woman was released from prison Monday, nearly 14 years after the death of her two-year-old daughter. Heidi Watkins, now 43, was sentenced in December 2000 to 50 years in prison after being convicted of child endangerment for the death of her daughter, Shelby Duis.
The toddler’s body was found on January 4, 2000 in the Spirit Lake home that Watkins shared with her boyfriend, Jesse Wendlesdorf. He was acquitted of murder and sexual abuse charges in a separate trial. Earlier this month, the Iowa Board of Parole granted parole to Watkins, who — based on earned-time credit — had not been scheduled to complete her prison sentence until November of 2022.