HARRISONVILLE, Mo. -- A Cass County judge sentenced a former Grandview police officer to life in prison with no chance for parole, plus an additional 50 years on Monday. Jeffrey D. Moreland will spend the rest of his life behind bars for the brutal murder of Cara Jo Roberts.
Five years after the young mother was murdered, her family is taking comfort in knowing that justice has been served. Last month a jury recommended a sentence of life without parole on the murder charge and 50 years for armed criminal action when it found Moreland guilty of the crimes.
On Monday morning a Cass County judge agreed, ordering the two penalties to run consecutively. In 2008, Roberts, 30, was found in a bathtub full of water, shot in the back of her head. Testimony showed she had been tied up and sexually assaulted before being killed execution style. The crime happened in the middle of the day, inside her home and left detectives stumped for nearly two years.
DNA evidence connected Moreland to this crime and the murder of a Jackson County woman strangled and stabbed in 2010. Roberts' mother told the court the loss of her daughter is something she may never get over.
"Personally I've been with a therapist for my depression, insomnia, night terrors," said Theresa Matthews, the victim's mother. "I still experience those. I can't seem to let everything go. I just wanted the defendant to know that he was an animal for what he did to my daughter."
Robert's husband, Jeff, says he's not sure how he will explain to his son, Carter, what exactly happened to his mother. The family has created a treasure box with mementos from Cara Jo and news articles that the boy will be able to read when he is old enough to understand the viciousness of this crime.
Moreland still faces a rape charge involving another victim. A hearing is scheduled for December. And the Jackson County murder case has yet to go to trial.
Morning report from Cass County: