Hardin linked to 1997 rape

The Times (Northeast Benton County) - - FRONT PAGE - TRACY M. NEAL tneal@nwadg.com

ROGERS — An emo­tional po­lice chief an­nounced the ar­rest of a for­mer po­lice of­fi­cer and con­victed mur­derer 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.”

At Mon­day’s press con­fer­ence, Mi­nor said that DNA had linked Grant Hardin with the rape of the teacher at Frank Tillery El­e­men­tary School in Rogers.

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

Hardin made his first court ap­pear­ance Mon­day in the rape case. Cir­cuit Judge Robin Green set Hardin’s bond at $250,000.

Hardin pleaded guilty to first de­gree mur­der in Oc­to­ber and as re­sult of the con­vic­tion a sam­ple of Hardin’s DNA was ob­tained. The sam­ple matched DNA from the rape case.

A teacher, who was also a Rogers po­lice­man’s wife, was at the school on Sun­day, Nov. 9, 1997, pre­par­ing for the week’s classes. A church ser­vice was also be­ing held in the school cafe­te­ria.

Ac­cord­ing to Hardin’s LinkedIn page, he worked as a po­lice of­fi­cer in Eureka Springs from 1993 to 1997.

Mi­nor said he had con­firmed that Hardin did work for the Eureka Springs Po­lice De­part­ment, but he was not with the de­part­ment at the time of the rape.

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 the news re­lease.

Rogers po­lice ob­tained a war­rant in 2003 for a “John Doe” sus­pect in the case.

Mi­nor said the case has re­mained im­por­tant to mem­bers of his de­part­ment. Mi­nor said once a year that de­tec­tives would set aside a week to con­cen­trate on the case.

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

Prose­cu­tors have not filed a for­mal charge against Hardin. His ar­raign­ment is sched­uled for 8 a.m. March 19 in Green’s court.

Hardin ad­mit­ted in court in Oc­to­ber to shoot­ing Ap­ple­ton, 59, of Gate­way in the head on Feb. 23, 2017.

Hardin will not be el­i­gi­ble for pa­role in the mur­der case un­til Feb. 21, 2038. He was be­ing held in a prison in Cal­ico Rock.

County records show Hardin served two terms, from 2009-10 and 2013-14, as con­sta­ble for Ben­ton County Dis­trict 1. 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 Hardin’s LinkedIn page.

Hardin

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