For the better part of four days, convicted rapist Alberto Morales spent his time hiding in a dense thicket of black oak trees nestled on the banks of Grapevine Lake, a reservoir about 20 miles north of Dallas.
Wearing one white tennis shoe, a pair of black shorts and a gray hoodie, Morales endured cold north winds and frigid rains.
It was only a matter of time before the desperado would have to make a move, and when he did, a brigade of Texas lawmen were swiftly at his heels. Whether he was armed, law officers wouldn’t say. But the vicious escaped convict had nearly killed a Miami-Dade police detective and had said he would never go back to prison.
On that he was true to his word.
Morales was shot and killed shortly after midnight Friday in a quiet little neighborhood that’s relatively crime free — at least it was until late Monday. That’s when the residents of Grapevine, Texas, learned that a convicted rapist was in their midst, having escaped from two Miami-Dade detectives transporting him to Las Vegas in a rented SUV.
“It was kind of like releasing a cobra,’’ said Grapevine Mayor William Tate, describing how people in the town of 46,000 were on edge after the escape. As in most places in Texas, guns are a common accessory, and there was no way of knowing whether Morales had managed to get his hands on one.
“Everyone was worried, everyone was scared,’’ said Police Chief Eddie Salame Saturday, just hours after Morales was taken down.
“Now we’re all breathing a collective sigh of relief.’’
After he bolted from the SUV, stabbing one of the detectives with a jagged pair of broken eyeglass frames, Morales, 41, was placed on Texas’ 10-most wanted, and an aggressive posse of SWAT team members was organized.
About 10:30 p.m. Friday, authorities got the call they were waiting for: a burglary on Forest Hills Road, a rural lakefront community just four miles from the Walmart parking lot where he had escaped. The homeowners, Teresa and Brian Parker, had just returned after spending the evening out. Brian Parker immediately realized something was wrong because their lights were on and a bathroom window was broken. He also noticed a distinctive body odor when they walked into their bedroom.
Missing was a good selection of Brian Parker’s wardrobe, including a pair of shoes and sweatpants.
“He trashed our closet and took all my jewelry,’’ Teresa Parker said.
Within minutes, residents were woken by the drone of helicopters, flashing lights and barking bloodhounds. At 12:30 a.m. a helicopter with infrared lights caught a glimpse of Morales near the Lake Forest Boat Club.
Grapevine City Councilwoman Darlene Freed, who lives a stone’s throw away, said she slept through the commotion, but was briefed the next morning.
“My guess is he went up and broke into that house and went straight toward the lake. They found him pretty quick,’’ she said.
Three officers opened fire, and Morales was dead.
“I can’t say that I am sorry about the end of the story,’’ Jo-Ann Glaze of Grapevine wrote on Facebook. “He should have known better to escape in Texas.’’
‘Demons in his head’
Morales, a career criminal and schizophrenic who was in and out of prison most of his life, migrated to Miami from Cuba with his family when he was young. At 17, he was hit in the head with a baseball bat, and had suffered brain trauma ever since, according to one of his attorneys, Marc Saggese of Las Vegas.