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story.lead_photo.caption Rogers Police Chief Hayes Minor holds up a picture of Grant Hardin, a suspect in a cold case, during a press conference Monday at the Rogers Police Station in Rogers. Hardin was arrested Monday in connection with the 1997 rape of a Rogers school teacher. - Photo by Charlie Kaijo

ROGERS -- An emotional police chief announced the arrest Monday of a former police officer and convicted murderer in connection with the 1997 rape of a Rogers school teacher.

Grant Matthew Hardin
Photo by Tracy Neal
Kevin Lammers, a Benton County deputy public defender, walks in front of Grant Hardin who is being escorted into court by Larry Taylor, a Rogers police detective. Hardin was arrested Monday in connection with the 1997 rape of a Rogers school teacher.

"It's a great day for our victim," a tearful Rogers Police Chief Hayes Minor said. "It's a great day for the men and women of our department. They kept this case alive."

About the case

Grant Hardin was arrested in connection with rape and kidnapping.

He faces from 10 to 40 years or life in prison if convicted of rape and from five to 20 years in prison if convicted of kidnapping.

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Minor said DNA linked Grant Hardin with the rape of the teacher at Frank Tillery Elementary School in Rogers. The state obtained a DNA sample from Hardin, 49, after he pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in October. The sample matched DNA from the rape case, Minor said.

"The Rogers Police Department would like to thank first and foremost the victim in this case for standing beside us and never giving up after 20 years," Minor said.

Hardin, who is serving a 30-year prison sentence for killing James Appleton, was arrested Monday in connection with rape and kidnapping.

He made his first court appearance Monday in the rape case. His arraignment is scheduled for 8 a.m. March 19 in Benton County Circuit Judge Robin Green's court. Green granted a request by Kevin Lammers, deputy public defender, that Hardin be held in the Benton County Jail to assist his attorneys with the case.

Minor and several of his detectives attended Hardin's bond hearing.

Minor said police notified the woman of the DNA match after receiving the news from the Arkansas Crime Laboratory.

The woman was at the school Sunday, Nov. 9, 1997, preparing for the week's classes while a church service was being held in the school cafeteria.

About 11:30 a.m., the teacher decided to use the restroom. A man wearing a knit stocking cap and sunglasses brandished a pistol, raped her and fled, according to a news release.

The woman described her rapist as between 20 and 30 years old, with reddish-blond facial hair, between 5 feet, 6 inches and 5 feet, 9 inches tall with a flat, wide nose, according to police.

Minor was one of the detectives called to the crime scene in 1997. He said many of the officers knew the victim, and the case remained important to members of his department. Once a year detectives would set aside at least a week to concentrate on solving the case, he said.

The case was even featured in 2015 on the television show Cold Justice: Sex Crimes.

Rogers police obtained a warrant in 2003 for a "John Doe" suspect in the case. A John Doe warrant is an arrest warrant for an individual whose name is not known. The statute of limitations for rape in Arkansas is six years, and the warrant was filed before time expired.

Minor said it was Arkansas' first ever John Doe warrant based on a DNA profile.

Hardin pleaded guilty in October to shooting Appleton, 59, of Gateway in the head on Feb. 23, 2017. He will not be eligible for parole in the murder case until Feb. 21, 2038. He was being held in a prison in Calico Rock.

He worked as a police officer in Eureka Springs from 1993 to 1997, according to Hardin's LinkedIn page. Minor confirmed Hardin worked for the Eureka Springs Police Department, but he was not with the department at the time of the rape.

County records show Hardin served two terms, from 2009-10 and 2013-14, as Benton County District 1 constable. He also has worked at the Northwest Arkansas Community Correction Center in Fayetteville, according to court documents.

Hardin was the police chief of Gateway from January 2016 to May 2016. He also worked for police departments in Fayetteville and Huntsville, according to his LinkedIn page.

NW News on 02/13/2018

Print Headline: Convicted murderer linked to 1997 rape

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