Jack Leland Allen, who murdered 27-year-old Nancy Linett Amaker of St. Matthews, has died after almost five decades in prison.
Prison records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show he left prison on March 18 for a medical reason.
He died of natural causes at a Midlands hospital on March 20, according to the S.C. Department of Corrections.
Allen kidnapped Amaker, a wife and mother of two children, after she left her uncle’s department store, Savitz’s, in downtown St. Matthews at around 6 p.m. on Aug. 21, 1974.
The next day, someone discovered Amaker’s body in Darlington County, at an area off of Interstate 95.
She had a gunshot wound to the head.
A nationwide manhunt got underway after the Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office and S.C. Law Enforcement Division linked a license plate to Allen’s 1974 Ford Bronco.
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Authorities in Phoenix, Arizona, arrested Allen on Sept. 24, 1974.
Court records show that Allen shot Amaker in Florence County, before abandoning her body in Darlington County.
A Florence County jury convicted Allen, who’d been a resident of Hardeeville for almost three years, of murder while in the commission of 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 although he and Cathy later divorced, they remained close friends. Cathy died in 2013.
He said his mother-in-law’s murder, “truly traumatized Cathy.”
Cathy was 6 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 although she never knew her grandmother, she and her tragic death have 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 Jay did not die in 2020 and is still alive.
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