MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The search in Texas for a fugitive wanted for stabbing one of his Miami-Dade Police escorts may be going cold.
An SUV police initially thought may have been stolen by attempted cop-killer Alberto Morales in his attempt at freedom turns out to be unrelated to their investigation.
Is Morales, a fugitive Florida inmate convicted of violent sexual assaults, running through Texas? Is he on his way back to South Florida? At this point police don’t know. So far, investigators have not found the clothes he was wearing or the shackles which were on him the day he escaped. They add that the numerous tips they initially received have turned up nothing, and the volume of tips is tapering off.
“He’s spent the better part of the last ten years in prison and he’s, so to speak, received somewhat of a prison education on his ability to get away from law enforcement,” said Grapevine, Texas police Sgt. Robert Eberling. “We know that we have a dangerous individual at large and we’re doing everything we can to try to capture him.”
Morales has been added to the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Top 10 Most Wanted Fugitives list. A $10,000 reward is being offered for information leading to his capture.
Miami-Dade Police Detectives Jaime Pardinas, 54, and David Carrero were escorting Morales to Nevada when he became disruptive on the flight. During a layover in Houston, the officers were informed he would not be allowed to board another flight, according to Miami-Dade Police Director J.D. Patterson.
“I believe he was acting such ways as maybe bumping his head on a passenger’s seat in front of him and doing a lot of crazy unusual things that just disrupted the entire flight,” said Patterson.
Pardinas and Carrero rented an SUV to drive Morales to Las Vegas; nearly 1,200 miles away, where Morales was being delivered to serve two life stretches in prison for sexual assault.
Pardinas and Carrero stopped in Dallas to await the arrival of a third Miami-Dade officer who would accompany them to Las Vegas.
While waiting for their colleague, they decided to make a detour to a 24-hour Walmart in nearby Grapevine to use the restroom, according to Miami-Dade police.
While Carrero was inside the store, Morales somehow managed to break his eyeglasses frame and use it like a dagger, pounding the weapon repeatedly into Pardinas’ chest and back. When Carrero returned, Pardinas was bleeding and Morales was gone — possibly still in his handcuffs and shackles.
The 911 call reveals Pardinas’ brave effort to give investigators vital information despite being wounded.
911 OPERATOR: Where were you stabbed at?
PARDINAS: I’ve been stabbed in the neck
PARDINAS: I’m in a gray SUV.
911 OPERATOR: Gray SUV. Where’s the guy who stabbed you?
PARDINAS: He ran.
PARDINAS: Subject is 5’7″, 165 pounds, white Latin male Alberto Morales. He’s a schizophrenic.
Pardinas underwent surgery and is listed in serious but stable condition.
Tuesday night, Texas authorities said Morales may have fled in a white Ford SUV, possibly an Explorer (Texas plates 19ZJW8) that was stolen in Irving around the time Morales made his getaway. There was a gun in the white SUV when it was stolen. Wednesday morning they announced the stolen SUV was not connected to the manhunt for Morales.
Texas law enforcement agencies, the U.S. Marshals Service and additional Miami-Dade police officers who flew into Texas after the incident are trying to track the fugitive, who now can add charges of attempted murder on a police officer and escape to his violent history. Police say they are also tracking down Morales’ family members to get an indication of where he might be.
A native of Cuba whose family moved to Miami, Morales was arrested for a pair of violent rapes in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood in 2003, but somehow eluded police and fled to Nevada, where he was convicted of two rape there and sentenced to two life prison terms.
In 2008, he was extradited back to Miami, where he pleaded guilty to the original rape charges, plus kidnapping, burglary and assault related to the 2003 attacks on two women in Little Havana. He was given 10 years on top of the life sentences, and was being returned to finish his Nevada sentence at the time of his escape.
In the Miami incidents, Morales broke into an apartment on Southwest 18th Court and, wielding a wooden-handle knife, locked a 61-year-old woman inside a bathroom and raped her 39-year-old roommate. He then raped the older woman. He left his wallet behind in the apartment.
His other crimes ranged from routine episodes of drug possession, grand theft, burglary, robbery and resisting arrest, to dealing stolen property, carrying concealed weapons and stealing exotic wildlife.
He was caught by Miami-Dade police on at least two occasions with caches of stolen birds worth thousands of dollars. In one of those incidents, the birds were found stuffed into pillow cases, and in another, they were discovered starving in an apartment.
He was charged with multiple counts of animal cruelty and “torturing animals with the intent to cause intense pain.” During one pet shop burglary, he shot and killed two dogs.
The Miami-Dade Police Department said that Deputy Police Director Juan Perez and Miami-Dade Deputy Mayor Genaro Iglesias will travel to Dallas on Thursday to meet with Pardinas and his family. MDPD said Pardinas is “making progress and we ask everyone to keep him in their prayers.”
Police said Morales may still be in handcuffs and shackles but should be considered extremely dangerous. Anyone with information is asked to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS (8477).