Former Grandview police officer charged in rape, 2 cold case murders

KANSAS CITY, Missouri - Prosecutors announced charges Friday against a former Grandview police officer in a recent rape and two cold case murders.

Jeffrey Dean Moreland, 52, of Harrisonville, was arrested Tuesday in Des Moines, Iowa on an outstanding Cass County, Missouri warrant.

In a joint news conference Friday held because the crimes occurred in both counties, Cass and Jackson County prosecutors said a DNA sample collected when Moreland was arrested matched that taken from the victim of a June 30 rape in Cass County and from the bodies of murder victims Nina Whitney and Cara Jo Roberts.

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According to court documents, a woman reports she was walking on M-291 Highway in Harrisonville on June 30 when a man driving a black Jeep stopped and asked if she wanted a ride. The man took her to a home in the 2900 block of Twin Pines Drive, where he raped her, gave her $100 and then drove her home.

The victim says she spent the night at a friend's house, and when she and her friend drove to her home the next morning, the man who had raped her was sitting in his vehicle outside her residence.

She and her friend continued past her home and called police, who followed her directions to the residence where the alleged rape occurred. The investigating officer, in Moreland's charging documents, stated he knew Moreland, knew that he lived there and knew that he drove a black Jeep.

Nina Whitney, 75, was found dead in her home near Blue Ridge Boulevard in Kansas City on Oct. 29, 2010. Police say a witness saw somebody walking down the street from Whitney's home on the day of the murder talking on a cell phone. A sketch was developed in April and another person came forward identifying Moreland as possibly the person in the sketch.

Investigating Whitney's murder, Kansas City police attempted to get a DNA sample from Moreland on June 16 of this year, but he declined, according to court documents.

Cara Jo Roberts was murdered Nov. 5, 2008 in her home in the 800 block of N. Patton in Harrisonville. Her husband found her shot to death in her bathtub.

Soon after Roberts' murder, a sketch was released of a person of interest , but there had been few advancements in the case in the years since.

There was no immediate word on the relationship between Moreland and his alleged victims.

Moreland was a member of the Grandview Police Department from May 1984 until his retirement in June 2005. He told his alleged rape victim he had palsy and had lost his job because of illness.

"The City truly sympathizes with the families of all involved," a Grandview city spokeswoman said in a written statement. "The City of Grandview has not been associated with Mr. Moreland since his retirement in 2005 and has no further comment on the issue."

The statement did not mention any illness or a reason for retirement.

Moreland is charged with two counts of forcible rape and one count of forcible sodomy in connection to the June 30 Cass County incident and two counts each of first-degree murder and armed criminal action in connection to Whitney's and Roberts' deaths.

He was being held on a $1 million cash bond.

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