New clue released in search for escaped inmate
DALLAS (WSVN) -- Police investigators have released a photograph they hope will help them catch the prison convict who stabbed a Miami-Dade police officer during a cross-country transport Monday night. The officer remains in a Dallas hospital Thursday but has been taken out of the intensive care unit.
The image, which shows a large bicep tattoo of a Native American man on horseback, belongs to 42-year-old Alberto Morales, the prisoner who, according to authorities, assaulted one of the two Miami-Dade police officers escorting him from Dallas to Las Vegas Monday night.
The officers parked their rented sport utility vehicle at a Walmart for a bathroom break. Police said, while the SUV was parked, Morales took off his eyeglasses, broke them and used a piece from those glasses to stab 54-year-old Detective Jaime Pardinas.
Morales, who faces charges involving violent crimes including rape, stabbed the South Florida law enforcer several times in the neck and back, and then took off running. Pardinas called 911 and was rushed to the hospital.
Pardinas is now recovering from a collapsed lung, but doctors moved him out of the ICU Thursday afternoon. "He's a superhero, you can't keep a man like that down," said Chris Heisler, a representative of the Honor Network, an organization that helps families of fallen or injured officers.
Heisler visited Pardinas in the hospital on Thursday and said the detective hopes doctors will allow him to fly back to Miami soon. "He's desperate to get his badge back on and his gun back on and go back to work," Heisler said.
Heisler is one of many who spent time in the hospital with Pardinas. On Thursday morning, the deputy director and deputy mayor of the Miami-Dade Police Department flew to Dallas to be by the detective's bedside. "Right now he's recovering day by day, getting a little better," said Deputy Director Juan Perez.
"First and foremost, we want to be there for the officer and his family," said Deputy Mayor Chip Iglesias, "to make sure their needs are being taken care of and that support is being provided."
According to Perez, "The purpose of the trip is to check on the welfare of the officer and to see what investigative leads they have, what requirements we need to provide them, if we need further assistance. We have some personnel on the ground, part of a task force with the Marshals that are currently trying to locate the subject. We are going to do whatever it takes to assist in that part of the investigation."
About ten Miami-Dade officers are in Texas helping with the search for the fugitive. Police say they have no clue where Morales is hiding, but they also indicated they have no evidence that he has left the North Texas area.
Grapevine Police Sergeant Robert Eberling called it "frustrating" that they have been unable to capture Morales. "We know the public is concerned. They're scared, and we want to get this guy as soon as possible," he said.
They are asking everyone who lives in Texas to be on the lookout for the fugitive. The reward for information leading to Morales' arrest now stands at $17,500.
Investigators hope the picture of Morales' tattoo will help people recognize him, if they see him on the street. However, police are urging people not to approach Morales if they happen to see him. Instead, they should call 911 immediately.
Morales pled guilty to raping two women in Miami. He was being moved to Las Vegas because he was also convicted of sexual assault in Nevada. He is considered extremely dangerous.
Although Sardinas' condition is improving, doctors said he will need to spend at least a few more days in the hospital before he is allowed to fly home.
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