A 52-year-old former Grandview police officer has been charged in connection with the murder of a young Harrisonville mother, authorities announced Friday morning.
Jeffrey Dean Moreland has been charged in connection with the 2008 murder of Cara Jo Roberts.
Moreland is also accused in the 2010 murder of Nina Whitney, 75. She was found dead in her Kansas City home last fall.
Official say they could charge Moreland with the two woman's murders because of a match of DNA taken from a Harrisonville woman. That woman told authorities that she was raped last week by Moreland, according to court documents.
Moreland was rolled into Cass County Court Friday afternoon in a wheel chair to face a judge for the first time. The judge entered a not guilty plea for Moreland because Moreland does not have an attorney yet. Moreland was in court on the first-degree murder charge in connection with Roberts' death.
Roberts' husband, Jeff, said Friday that he was overwhelmed to learn about Moreland's arrest.
"I was excited and nervous all at the same time," Jeff Roberts said during a news conference. "I am very glad to be where we are now."
Moreland was arraigned Thursday in connection with an alleged sexual assault of a Harrisonville woman last week. A not guilty plea was also entered then.
The woman told police that Moreland raped her inside his home in the 4900 block of Twin Pines Drive on June 30, according to court documents. He was charged with forcible rape and two counts of forcible rape on July 2.
The woman told officers that she had walked to a payday loan business and was returning by foot to her home. She said a man in a Jeep pulled up and offered her a ride. She got into the Jeep and asked him to take her to the Harrisonville downtown square, which was near her home.
"She noticed Mr. Moreland was shaking and he told her that he had palsy. He told her that he had worked for the government, but lost his job due to illness," according to court records.
The woman told investigators that the man began driving erratically and didn't stop at the square, according to court records. The woman said she then "knew she was 'in trouble.'" She said the man drove into the garage at his home and closed the garage door.
The man forced her into his home and she began pleading for her life, according to court documents. "Just don't kill me," the woman repeatedly told her attacker, according to court documents.
Moreland struck the woman and began to rip off her dress, which he later cut off with scissors, according to court documents.
"He then told her that she was stupid for getting into a vehicle with a stranger," according to court documents. "He told her that he picked her up because he knew she was vulnerable."
In an attempt to save her life, the woman agreed with him and said she tried to cooperate as best as she could. The man still raped her and at one point the woman feared she was going to be strangled to death, according to court records.
After the attack, the woman told police that Moreland gave her two $50 bills and said he would pay her another $100 the next day, according to court documents. Moreland drove the woman home, according to court documents.
The woman spent the night at a friend's house. When her friend brought her home, she discovered Moreland sitting in his Jeep in front of the home, according to court documents. The terrified woman then called police who took her to the Cass County Regional Medical Center for a rape kit exam.
DNA taken from the woman matched DNA in the slayings of Cara Jo Roberts and Whitney, authorities say. Moreland was charged Thursday with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in connection with Roberts' death.
Jeff Roberts thanked the woman who says Moreland raped her for having the courage to come forward. He also said he is angry to learn his wife's killer is accused of hurting others as well.
"With what I was going through, I never thought others were involved. The more I learn, the worse it gets, I am very angry," he said.
Jeff Roberts found his wife shot to death in a bloody bathtub in their home in the 800 block of North Patton on Nov. 5, 2008. Cara Jo Roberts was 30 years old. Her then 2-year-old son was not at home when his mother was shot in the back of the head.
Cara Jo Roberts had been sexually assaulted, according to court documents. Other DNA was found on plastic zip ties and duct tape left at the home.
Moreland is also accused of killing Nina Whitney, who was found slain in her home at 11800 Belmont Ave. in Kansas City.
Moreland was charged Friday morning with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in connection with the Oct. 29 murder. No sign of forced entry was found. The attack apparently began in Whitney's bathroom and a full tub was found. Her body was found at the bottom of a staircase.
According to court records, Whitney was strangled to death and suffered "multiple sharp force injuries." A witness told police that a man with a limp was seen near Whitney's house around the time of the murder. A sketch was released this spring of the suspect who was seen driving a black Jeep.
Moreland owns a black four-door Jeep, according to court records. A Harrisonville police officer said Moreland retired from the Grandview Police Department because of illness, according to court records.
A city of Grandview representative tells KCTV5's Eric Chaloux that Moreland worked as a patrolman from May 1984 through June 2005.
In a statement, the city said, "The city truly sympathizes with the families of all involved. The city of Grandview has not been associated with Mr. Moreland since his retirement in 2005 and has no further comment on the issue."
Moreland now lives in Harrisonville, according to court records.
Moreland was arrested in Iowa. Authorities say he fled to Iowa after police asked him for a DNA sample last month.
Des Moines police picked up Moreland on a Missouri warrant for rape at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. He was booked into the Polk County Jail.
On Tuesday, Missouri law enforcement officers obtained a search warrant and took a DNA sample from Moreland while he was in the Polk County jail.
Moreland was released from the Iowa jail at 7 p.m. on Wednesday into the custody of Missouri law enforcement officers. On Tuesday, Missouri law enforcement officers obtained a search warrant and took a DNA sample from Moreland while he was in the Polk County jail.
Moreland is being held in the Cass County Jail on a $1 million cash only bond.
To read previous coverage of the Nina Whitney murder, click here. To read about when a sketch of a suspect was released, click here.
To read neighbors' shocked reaction to Moreland's arrest, click here.
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