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HAMMOND — Leonard Fowler always cashed his paycheck and kept the money in his wallet.

It’s the detail of his life that would make him the target of a robbery and ultimately led to his stabbing death.

Fowler, 46, had allowed Cindy Lou Landress to stay with him in his Hammond home.

It was April 1988 and Landress had moved back to the area after living in San Diego. She had previously been married to a man who was a distant relative of Fowler.

She at some point reconnected with William Lewellen, someone she had known when she was younger. The two decided to rob Fowler on April 23, 1988. They knew Fowler had recently cashed his $1,100 paycheck, and like always was keeping the cash in his wallet.

After Fowler’s daughter left for work, Lewellen forced Fowler to the ground while threatening him with a knife, according to court records. Landress used an extension cord and suspenders to tie Fowler up while they took the cash from his wallet.

Landress told Lewellen to leave, but he instead grabbed a knife after Fowler managed to free himself and was starting to load a shotgun, according to court records. Fowler was stabbed to death 22 times.

Landress and Lewellen fled to San Diego with Fowler’s cash and truck. They eventually were arrested in San Diego.

About a year later, Landress was convicted of murder and a Lake County jury recommended she be sentenced to death.

Lewellen pleaded guilty to a charge of murder and was sentenced to 60 years in prison.

In 1992, the Indiana Supreme Court overturned Landress' death sentence because there wasn’t direct evidence that she inflicted the wound that killed Fowler, or that she used one of the knives in a way that caused serious bodily injury. There were two knives used during the homicide.

Her case was sent back to Lake Superior Court for another sentencing hearing.

Some of the mitigating factors her defense attorney asked the court to consider was her turbulent upbringing that included being abused. She married when she was 13 years old, and she later abused alcohol and drugs, according to court records.

Then Lake County Criminal Judge Richard Conroy sentenced Landress in 1993 to 60 years in prison. She later appealed the sentence, but it was upheld by the Indiana Supreme Court.

The 60-year sentence at the time was the maximum a person could receive for murder. Conroy during the hearing said he was handing down the sentence because of Landress' criminal history, her position of trust and because of the "heinous nature" of the homicide.

Landress, who is now 58 years old, was released from prison in 2014, according to the Indiana Department of Correction website.

Lewellen, 66, remains in the Indianapolis Re-Entry Education Facility. He was released from prison Dec. 28, 2015, according to the Indiana Department of Corrections records. 

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