Florida escapee has fascination with birds

Posted Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Escapee Alberto Morales, who remains on the run after stabbing a Florida detective in a Grapevine parking lot, has a long and bizarre criminal history, including his fascination with stealing exotic birds.

Morales once hid in a kitchen cabinet at a home after he attempted to steal two Macaws in Florida, punched his girlfriend when she didn't prepare him dinner and shot several dogs to keep them quiet as he stole over $250,000 worth of wildlife, according to 1990s arrest affidavits obtained by the Star-Telegram.

In one 1997 arrest in Dade County, Fla., Morales was found with 11 lovebirds stuffed inside a pillow case -- with no water or food -- and jammed under a car seat.

An intense search continued Thursday for Morales, who escaped Monday night after he used his eyeglasses to stab a Florida detective and run away from authorities at a Grapevine Walmart.

Authorities described Morales as a "very dangerous individual."

Miami-Dade detectives were taking Morales, 42, from Miami to Las Vegas when the inmate became disruptive on a flight. At a layover in Houston, detectives decided to rent a car and drive the rest of the 1,200 miles.

After arriving in Grapevine, Detective David Carrero went inside the Walmart, leaving only Detective Jaime Pardinas to guard Morales. While Carrero was away, Morales got his eyeglasses and repeatedly stabbed Pardinas, critically injuring the veteran detective. The detective survived.

On a store surveillance camera, Morales can be seen running away from Pardinas.

On a 911 call that the detective made, Pardinas told the dispatcher that he had been stabbed in the neck and that Morales was a "schizophrenic."

Dozens of local, state and federal authorities have converged on Northeast Tarrant County in search of the convicted sex offender. A reward for his capture has been increased to $20,000.

'I needed the money'

The arrest affidavits provide this glimpse of the life Morales led in Dade County, Fla., from 1994 to 1997:

Morales, who was born in Cuba, listed his jobs as a laborer and roofer, but on one occasion he told police that he was unemployed because of a head injury. His attorney in Nevada has said that his client claimed he suffered a severe brain injury at the age of 17 when he was hit in the head with a baseball bat.

In March 1994, Miami-Dade police arrested Morales for reckless driving, driving without a license and possession of stolen property.

Morales was in trouble again in 1995, after police stopped him and found four stolen exotic birds valued at $5,000.

The same year, Morales punched his girlfriend several times in the face when he came home and found that she had not prepared dinner.

To avoid detection in a burglary, Morales shot several dogs at a wildlife center on June 21, 1996, and stole almost $250,000 worth of wildlife. He was arrested a few days later after selling four of the exotic animals to a police source.

In November 1996, Morales was spotted walking through backyards and looking into windows of homes. Police took him into custody and seized a bag of cocaine and 11 lovebirds in a pillowcase found in Morales' car.

His bird addiction continued in October 1997. Police responded to a burglary in progress in Dade County when officers observed Morales at a residence trying to pry open a bird aviary that housed two Macaws valued at $4,000. Morales dropped his gloves and pillowcases and ran from officers.

After a brief pursuit, officers found Morales hiding in a kitchen cabinet at a home near the bird aviary.

Speaking in Spanish, Morales told the officers, "Forgive me, I needed the money."

Information was not available on the sentences Morales received for the crimes in Dade County.

Trouble in Las Vegas

In 2008, Morales pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a woman at an apartment near the Las Vegas strip in 2003. Then he was sent to Florida to face other charges in a 2003 crime.

In Miami, Morales was sentenced to 10 years in prison in December after pleading guilty to sexual battery with a deadly weapon, burglary with assault and kidnapping in the 2003 case.

Morales is about 5-feet-7 and 165 pounds, with brown eyes and brown hair. He has a tattoo of a Native American on a horse on his left shoulder and upper left arm. He has scars on his left hand, left arm and nose, and has discolored spots on his face around his right eye and on his forehead.

He was wearing dark shorts, a white hooded jacket and one tennis shoe when he escaped in Grapevine.

Authorities say they believe the inmate has gotten rid of the shackles he was wearing.

This report contains information from the Associated Press.

Domingo Ramirez Jr., 817-390-7763

Twitter: @mingoramirezjr

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