Posted at 2:11 AM Jul 23, 2008
Early on June 14, 2008 emergency services responded to the Brighton, CO residence of 78-year-old Robert Moreland. Smoke was rolling out of Moreland's home. First responders found the truck driver inside. He'd been beaten to death.
Moreland's old Chevy van was missing, too. It was later found elsewhere in Brighton, a city of about 30,000 located just over 20 miles northeast of downtown Denver.
Everett Moreland, Robert's son, told Denver reporters that there were some possibly sketchy people staying with Robert. Everett wondered if they'd taken advantage of his father. Robert Moreland tended to keep a good deal of cash around.
Investigators knew at least one thing at the time -- there had been no forced entry to the Moreland residence. Maybe Everett was onto something. Maybe Robert Moreland knew his killer -- or killers -- after all.
More than a month after Moreland's death, a 37-year-old woman named Laura Childress and Chase Andrew McGraw, age 18, were charged with his murder. They were also charged with first-degree arson, among other things.
Moreland's neighbors and family members told the Denver Post that the elderly man probably took Childress and McGraw into his home to help them get through some kind of rough patch. After all, McGraw was listed as having no fixed address in the Post article about his arrest.
A Laura Childress from Englewood, CO, same age as the woman under arrest, had a MySpace profile in 2005. In it she stated that she was "a single mom of 3 kids (12, 13 & 16)." She gave her profession at the time as "commercial insurance CSR/Agent" and said she earned between $30,000 and 45,000 a year. This Laura Childress wrote that she wanted to meet "new and exciting people."
Another profile, last updated just 7 days before the murder of Robert Moreland, seemed to belong to Chase McGraw. It didn't say much, but it had a pulsing green and black marijuana leaf theme and an oh-so-articulate headline from the profile owner: "Chase wanna get high."
The same page also indicated that the Chase who wanted to get high was in a relationship, from Arvada, CO and at one time possibly working for FedEx.
There were 6 photos accompanying the profile. They appeared to show Chase and a person who was either Laura Childress or an older, ugly dude who looked just like Laura Childress. In part, the rode-hard/put away wet look of the long-haired blonde in the photos was to blame, but the photo quality wasn't stellar, either. Comparing one of the MySpace pics with Childress's and McGraw's mugshots was enough to make it pretty clear that at one time, "no fixed address" Chase McGraw was fixed enough to get online and set up a MySpace. And he was in some sort of relationship with Laura Childress, a woman 19 years his senior.
It seems like Laura Childress may have met her "new and exciting" person. Why that may have led to the murder of a kind-hearted man like Robert Moreland will remain anyone's guess.