A native of Cuba whose family moved to Miami, Morales was arrested for a pair of violent rapes in Miami in 2003, but somehow eluded police and fled to Nevada, where he was convicted of two more rapes 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. When he was done, Morales 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.
Among the charges he faced: 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.
Anyone with information is asked to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS (8477).
Miami Herald staff writers Charles Rabin and David Ovalle contributed to this report.