Reward for escaped Florida felon's arrest increased to $17,500

Print
Email
|

by MARJORIE OWENS and MATT GOODMAN

WFAA

Posted on February 14, 2013 at 12:12 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 14 at 6:57 PM

2/14 Update at 12:15 p.m.

The Grapevine Police Department says the reward for Morales' arrest has increased from $10,000 to $17,500. 

2/14 Update at 11:04 a.m.:

When Morales escaped on Monday night, police said he had a indian tattooed on his left arm. Grapevine authorities have now sent that image out to media outlets and it's posted above this story.

Call police immediately if you see Morales. 

2/13 Update at 4:20 p.m.: 

Representatives from Miami-Dade police held a news conference outside Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas Wednesday afternoon stressing the importance of finding escaped Florida felon Alberto Morales before he harms another person. 

"He's got a horrible past, everything he's been arrested for … has been with a deadly weapon," said Sgt. Patricia Bimonte with the Miami-Dade Police Department's Warrant Division. "He is a dangerous person, he hurt my officer and he tried to kill him. We need to catch this guy, he is going to hurt someone in the public." 

On Monday night, Morales, 42, stabbed Miami-Dade Det. Jaime Pardinas in Grapevine in a Walmart parking lot in Grapevine before fleeing the scene. That past includes a slew of charges since 1994, including grand theft, sexual battery with a weapon, armed burglary, aggravated kidnapping and assault as well as multiple convictions for resisting an officer and cruelty to animals. 

During the media briefing, Bimonte said the wounded officer is her employee, making the case "very personal" to her. 

Pardinas was seriously injured in the attack, stabbed multiple times in the neck and back. Bimonte said the wounds were so severe that she suspected the glasses were broken or "sharpened like a shank in the jail." 

"He was stabbed in the neck, in the back, he had a collapsed lung, there were a lot of injuries to him," she said. 

Pardinas is stabilized in Parkland, although he remains in serious condition. He's improving and was able to speak with his family Wednesday morning, the sergeant said. 

Bimonte said two Miami-Dade officers were already in the Dallas area and six to eight more are on their way. The U.S. Marshals are helping the investigation, which includes agencies from Dallas and Grapevine.

Chris Heisler, founder of The Honor Network, accompanied Bimonte during the press conference. He said he's reached out to district attorney's offices throughout North Texas to petition them to add to the reward for Morales' capture, which currently stands at $10,000.

Dallas County DA spokeswoman Debbie Denmon says the office will not be chipping in to this fund after donating $60,000 in a reward for the arrest of whoever gunned down Kaufman County Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse last month. 

Upon his capture, Morales will face charges in Tarrant County. The district attorney's office there has not said whether it will add to the reward. 

Investigators believe Morales is still in the region. He was wearing shorts, a T-shirt and a single shoe when he escaped. Surveillance footage from the Walmart parking lot shows a figure sprinting out of an SUV; he does not appear to be shackled, but Bimonte said he was at the time of the attack. She did not release any other specifics. 

"He's outside his element, he was in Texas when this happened, it was cold outside, so, to the general public, he's going to be out of place," Heisler said. "He was wearing a pair of shorts." 

Authorities do not believe Morales has any friends or family in the area and are pleading with anyone who may have had contact with him to call police immediately. 

"Please help us get him," Bimonte said. "The Miami-Dade Police Department is not going to leave Dallas. We are going to find this guy and we are going to bring him to justice." 

2/13 Earlier report:  

GRAPEVINE –– Grapevine police say they have few leads as to the whereabouts of an armed and dangerous Miami felon who seriously injured an officer as he escaped custody on Monday night. 

Alberto Morales, 42, escaped from custody after stabbing a Miami-Dade detective with a piece of broken eyeglasses Monday night in the parking lot of a Grapevine Walmart. He was in the midst of being transported from Miami, Fla. to Las Vegas, Nev. to face a sexual assault charge.

Two detectives accompanied Morales on a commercial flight to Nevada on Monday, which started in Miami but had a layover in Houston. Before landing in Texas, Morales slammed his head against a seat and was not allowed back on the flight once they landed in Houston.

The two detectives rented an SUV to finish the trip. In Grapevine on the way to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport to meet a third detective, they stopped at a Walmart. While one of his minders was using the restroom, Morales broke a pair of glasses and stabbed Miami-Dade Det. Jaime Pardinas and fled into the city around 10:30 p.m. Monday.

"I've been stabbed in the neck," Pardinas said in a call to 911.

Despite his serious injuries, he was able to describe the suspect and told the dispatcher Morales is schizophrenic. The other detective returned to the vehicle and took over the 911 call, saying Pardinas was stabbed in the neck and back.

The detective said Morales did not take Pardinas' gun and fled the scene on foot.

Pardinas, a 28-year veteran, remains in serious condition at Parkland Memorial Hospital.

In a news conference Wednesday morning, Grapevine police Sgt. Robert Eberling said while the department has received a number of tips, none have created viable leads.

Tuesday night, one strong lead police pursued proved to be a dead end. An SUV was reported stolen from a nearby motel around the time of Morales' escape. Dallas police recovered the vehicle Tuesday night, but there was no sign of the fugitive and "no ties to Morales whatsoever," Eberling said.

The focus of the search remains in the Grapevine area, where Eberling said police are searching "any place a person can hide, whether that be drainage ditches, in people's backyards, wherever."

"Until we have information that leads us to believe he has left this area, we're still looking in the immediate area of Grapevine," the sergeant said. "We have not recovered any clothing, any of the shackles that were restraining him."

With a criminal history that includes kidnapping with a deadly weapon and sexual battery with a deadly weapon, Eberling described Morales as a man savvy to evading police.

"We do know that he spent the better part of the last 10 years in prison," he said. "He, so to speak, received somewhat of a prison education."

Eberling said the Grapevine Police Department is working with Miami-Dade police, the U.S. Marshals Service and authorities in Nevada. Authorities at border crossings have also been briefed and given images of Morales, the sergeant said.

"We're trying to track down any family members or friends he might have contacted," Eberling said.

Inmates that served time with Morales were also interviewed.

According to Eberling, Morales was wearing handcuffs in front that were attached to a waist band or belly chain that prevented the suspect from moving his arms away from his body when he managed to escape.

The Texas Department of Public Safety has issued a $10,000 reward in the arrest and prosecution of Morales, who is now listed as one of the state's 10 most wanted men.

"We're urging the public to stay vigilant," Eberling said. "... Anyone who comes in contact with him is certainly at risk."

Police have asked anyone that spots Morales to call 911 immediately and not approach the suspect.

Print
Email
|