Jack Leland Allen, who murdered Nancy Linett Amaker, 27, of St. Matthews, has died after nearly five decades in prison.
Jail records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show he left prison on March 18 for medical reasons.
He died of natural causes in a hospital in the Midlands on March 20, according to the SC Department of Corrections.
Allen kidnapped Amaker, a wife and mother of two, after leaving her uncle’s department store, Savitz’s, in downtown St. Matthews around 6 p.m. on August 21, 1974.
The next day, someone discovered Amaker’s body in Darlington County, in an area off Interstate 95.
She was shot in the head.
A nationwide manhunt began after the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office and SC Law Enforcement Division linked a license plate to Allen’s 1974 Ford Bronco.
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Authorities in Phoenix, Arizona arrested Allen on September 24, 1974.
Court records show Allen shot Amaker in Florence County, before abandoning his body in Darlington County.
A Florence County jury convicted Allen, who had resided in Hardeeville for nearly three years, of murder during the commission of a kidnapping in March 1975.
Allen was sentenced to death.
In 1976, the state Supreme Court commuted all death sentences between 1974 and 1976 to life in prison.
Brian Setree married Amaker’s daughter, Cathy. The couple had two children.
Setree said that although he and Cathy later divorced, they remained close friends. Cathy died in 2013.
He said his stepmother’s murder “really traumatized Cathy”.
Cathy was 6 years old when Allen murdered her mother.
“They never got over it,” Setree said of Cathy and her brother, Jay.
The couple’s daughter, Allie, “is the spitting image of Nancy,” Setree said.
Allie Setree said that although she never knew her grandmother, her and her tragic death inspired her to pursue a career in law enforcement.
She is currently working as a paralegal to learn more about the criminal justice system.
This story has been edited to reflect that Jay did not die in 2020 and is still alive.
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