DNA evidence leads to rape charge in 1986 Kansas City cold case

Cleophus Parker
Cleophus Parker

A 61-year-old Missouri inmate has been charged in the 1986 rape of a woman in Kansas City.

The rape had been a cold case for decades after two men attacked a 36-year-old woman as she walked to her car in the East Bottoms on July 9, 1986.

On Thursday, Cleophus Parker was brought from prison to a Jackson County court and arraigned on charges of rape, forcible sodomy and robbery. Prosecutors said DNA linked Parker to the crime in 2012, and authorities found him at the Jefferson City Correctional Center last year.

Parker would have been 32 at the time of the attack.

According to court records, two men forced the woman into the back of her car, threatened her with a gun and restrained her in the back seat. She told police that they drove her to a grassy area on Parretta Drive, tied her hands and raped her.

The woman eventually freed herself and ran away, leaving behind a shoe that police found at the scene. DNA recovered from the woman linked Parker to the crime years later. Parker is serving a life sentence for kidnapping, rape and other charges.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said the Parker case was the last investigation funded under federal cold case grants that her office has been using since 2009. During the time the grants were available, the prosecutor’s office reviewed 4,313 cases and filed charges in 53 of them. One defendant was exonerated.

“The crimes charged in these cases occurred as long ago as 1980, but they leave a lasting impact on each victim,” Baker said in a statement Thursday. “I’m proud that our prosecutors have been able to secure prison sentences of more than 1,500 years, including 35 life sentences, due to these grants.”

Baker said that although the grants are ending, the prosecutor’s office has developed expertise that will allow it to continue to look for more cold cases to solve.