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Archie Ingersoll, Forum Communications Co., Published September 16 2010

Man free after serving 40 years for murders

James Leroy Iverson, who served more than 40 years on convictions of killing two women in Grand Forks in 1968, is set to become an entirely free man as his parole period ends today.

Iverson, 71, is scheduled to be discharged sometime before noon from the Bismarck Transition Center, said the center’s interim administrator, Warren Emmer.

“Really he’s expiring his sentence, so he’s just free to leave,” Emmer said. “He’s done.”

At the transition center, where former inmates are eased back into community life, Iverson was allowed to come and go, but he had to tell staff where he was going, when he was leaving and when he would be back. After he’s released from the center, he’ll no longer be monitored.

“He’ll be an elderly man looking to make his way in the world,” Emmer said.

Emmer did not know where Iverson plans to live, but said the convicted killer had a tough time finding a new home. “His name is quite known, and it was very difficult, given the nature of the crime, for him to find a place to live,” Emmer said.

Iverson has told the state parole board in the past that he has no intention of returning to Grand Forks.

Iverson moved into the 162-bed transition center in August 2009. Before that, he resided at the Missouri River Correctional Facility, a minimum-security prison that sits south of Bismarck, and he was known as North Dakota’s longest-serving inmate.

Iverson was convicted of murdering Carol Mayers and Dianne Bill, two 25-year-olds who were found strangled to death Nov. 26, 1968, in a Grand Forks apartment.

He was sentenced to 25 to 30 years for the second-degree murder of Mayers, a term he finished in 1994, and was ordered to serve life in prison for the first-degree murder of Bill, but pardon boards steadily reduced that sentence from 1975 to 1990.

Iverson was turned down nine times before he was paroled in October 2008, a decision some of Mayers’ and Bill’s relatives adamantly opposed.

Officials said several factors led to his being paroled, including his age, his good behavior in prison, the amount of time he’d spent in prison, his soon-to-expire sentence, and his deteriorating health.

A request to speak with Iverson at the transition center over the phone was not granted Wednesday.

Archie Ingersoll is a writer for the Grand Forks Herald