Grisly murder cases are not new to Suzanne Lister, but this one is different. The 1994 slaying of Nancy Heuring was the first murder case assigned to Lister as a young prosecutor.
Heuring, a retired state Department of Human Services worker suffering from multiple sclerosis, was beaten to death by two 16-year-old girls she paid to take care of her at night. Lister calls it a senseless, vicious crime, so she is determined to keep the women responsible for Heuring's death behind bars. Carie Walker, who was convicted of bludgeoning Heuring with a fireplace tool, was denied this month in her bid for parole. Co-defendant Dedra Wilhite, who pleaded guilty to a reduced charge after her confession was tossed out by a judge, was recommended for early release in November, but she won't get out unless Gov. Brad Henry signs off on it. Lister and Heuring's family are determined to keep that from happening. Heuring's daughter and nephew joined Lister in writing protest letters to the governor. Nephew Kent Ferguson, a former Olympic diver, said he is afraid Wilhite will repeat her crime if she is released, a sentiment echoed by Lister in her letter. “Dedra Wilhite remains as manipulative and non-remorseful today as she was in 1994,” Lister wrote. “She minimized her involvement in the homicide when questioned by the investigator assigned to prepare one of the reports relied upon during her parole hearing.” Lister said Wilhite's version of Heuring's death is inconsistent with her 1994 confession and physical evidence found at the scene.