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story.lead_photo.caption Grant Matthew Hardin

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."

Grant Hardin was arrested in connection to rape, a Class Y felony, and kidnapping, a Class B felony.

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

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 30-year 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.

General News on 02/14/2018

Print Headline: Hardin linked to 1997 rape

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