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Iowa murder suspect tracked down after 2011 killing

CEDAR RAPIDS – A suspect in a cold case murder has been tracked down, police in Iowa’s second-largest city say.

The Cedar Rapids Police Department, in cooperation with the Linn County Attorney’s Office, has made an arrest in the 2011 cold case involving the murder of Dexter Lashun Meeks. Dexter Meeks was 22-years-old when the homicide occurred.

On June 26, 2011 at approximately 2:50 a.m. Dexter Meeks was sitting on the porch of his apartment building at 211 15th Street SE with his brother, Andrew Meeks. Dexter and Andrew Meeks had just walked home from the Tycoon Bar in downtown Cedar Rapids.

While they were outside talking, Andrew Meeks observed a man walk eastbound out of the alley next to their apartment building. The subject stopped in the street and began shooting a handgun at Dexter and Andrew Meeks. Andrew Meeks told investigators that he was able to get inside the main door of the building while Dexter Meeks pushed him through the doorway. After getting inside the building, Andrew Meeks stated that he looked back to see Dexter Meeks had fallen in the entryway. Dexter Meeks had sustained a gunshot wound to the head and would succumb to his injuries a short time later.

Police conducted a neighborhood canvas and the only witness identified was Andrew Meeks. Andrew Meeks was unable to identify the suspect that had discharged the handgun. Neighbors reported hearing gunshots, but no one reporting actually witnessing the incident.

The investigation centered around disturbances that had occurred the night of the murder at the Tycoon Bar that involved both Dexter and Andrew Meeks, as well as a group of individuals that were associated with the two brothers. Several individuals were questioned as part of the investigation, however there was insufficient evidence to identify a specific suspect.

By 2012, investigators had followed up on all reasonable leads, however a suspect was not identified.

In March 2020, the Police Department’s Cold Case Unit was contacted by the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department in Modesto, California. Investigator Matt Denlinger was notified that an inmate by the name of Mykel Roberts, age 29, was attempting to confess to a murder that had occurred in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in 2011. Roberts allegedly had some information, but was uncertain of the victim’s name. A detective in the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department interviewed Roberts to attempt to collect further details and verify the confession. Investigator Denlinger continued to communicate with the detective and was able to identify the victim as Dexter Meeks.

After a substantial review of the cold case and information provided by Roberts, the Cedar Rapids Police Department determined that Roberts was likely involved in the murder. Two cold case investigators from the Police Department, Investigator Denlinger and Investigator Randy Jernigan, travelled to Modesto, California and interviewed Roberts at the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department on April 28, 2020.

Investigators interviewed Roberts and obtained a complete, detailed confession that supported and corroborated many details of the shooting incident that were learned during the investigation.

Following the interview, both investigators returned to Cedar Rapids and continued to work with prosecutors in the Linn County Attorney’s Office. The Linn County Attorney’s Office filed a three count complaint charging Roberts with Murder in the First Degree, Attempted Murder and Going Armed with Intent. Bond has been set at $3,000,000.

The warrant was served to Roberts in California and he was extradited to the Linn County Jail.

Police Chief Wayne Jerman said, “The Police Department is committed to following all leads and seeking resolution to all homicide cases. Our investigators are dedicated to bringing those responsible for taking the life of another human being to justice. While an arrest does not erase the pain, suffering, and sadness with a murder case that is almost 10 years old, we hope that a suspect being brought to justice lessens that burden.”

Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden said, “This case serves as another example of an unwavering commitment by our Police Department to investigate and pursue those who commit crimes of violence in our community. Our office is grateful to partner with them in our continuing effort to hold offenders to account for their crimes and deliver justice to the victim.”

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