FRAMINGHAM (CBS) — Police and US Marshals are still searching for an inmate who escaped a maximum security facility in Rhode Island on New Year’s Eve, and have focused their manhunt in and around Framingham Tuesday.
U.S. Marshal for Rhode Island Jamie Hainsworth said escaped prisoner James Morales should “turn yourself in,” in response to a reporter’s question at a press conference Tuesday afternoon in Providence, Rhode Island.
Hainsworth repeatedly said they would not provide details about their search for Morales so far, but that the escaped prisoner has the potential to be dangerous and may be armed.
“Our immediate priority has been and will continue to be to find James Morales and get him off the street,” Hainsworth said.
A confidential phone tip line for the public has been set up. If you have information on the whereabouts of James Morales, you are asked to call 1-800-336-0102.
WBZ-TV’s Christina Hager reports
Marshal Hainsworth said it appears that Morales suffered lacerations during his escape from the Wyatt Correctional Center in Central Falls, Rhode Island, last Saturday night. He warned hospitals and walk-in centers to be on the look out for the injured escapee.
He also commended the cooperation between law enforcement and leads provided by the public so far.
Morales, 35, was awaiting trial on charges that he stole a stash of assault rifles and pistols from a Worcester armory in 2015. He was discovered missing from the Wyatt Correctional Center around 10:30 p.m. Saturday.
Warden Daniel Martin said he made his bold escape around 7 p.m. by climbing a basketball hoop in the prison yard, cutting through a barbed-wire fence with some sort of tool, and scaling a wall.
Investigators say Morales then followed train tracks near the Central Falls facility all the way to Attleboro, Massachusetts, where they say he stole a car from a store parking lot.
They also found bloody prison clothing nearby under a Route 95 overpass, and believe he hurt himself during his escape.
On Tuesday, police detectives and a K-9 unit scoured a home on Irving Street in Framingham after that stolen car was found in that city.
Neighbors believe the search of the home is related to the fugitive, who is considered dangerous and may be armed.
One Framingham woman told reporters that Morales banged on her door around 10:30 p.m. Saturday.
Vanessa Lugo told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Kim Tunnicliffe that a quiet New Year’s Eve with her kids was shattered when she heard loud banging on her back door. She didn’t answer, and the man doing the knocking walked away, walking down the street very calmly.
“The way he banged, it seemed like he was angry,” she said. “He had a bag with clothes already, he had already changed. He had no blood on him at that time.”
It wasn’t until police showed up about an hour later that Lugo found out that man was Morales. She believes he was looking for a female friend who lives in the building.
“They knew each other, normal friendship and stuff like that,” Lugo said.
She said she’s very scared for her family’s safety, since Morales is still on the loose.
“I haven’t slept,” she said. “I wish he could just get caught … I have children of my own, and I heard the charges that he had, so I was very scared for me and my children.”
The next day, police found a car illegally parked in a reserved residential spot at another apartment complex about a block from that door he’d banged on. Police say there was blood in it, along with trash and clothing.
“This building has so many kids and thinking about it, it’s like oh my God,” resident Lizbeth Acevedo told WBZ.
It was the same car police say Morales stole from a customer at an Attleboro market shortly after he escaped. But they say he had replaced the Rhode Island license plate with a Massachusetts one stolen from a car in an apartment parking lot on Route 9 in Framingham.
There have been other sightings. Police say they found surveillance video showing Morales walking toward Tedeschi’s Market in downtown Framingham, and on Monday, an officer saw a man matching his description driving south on Hollis Street toward Ashland in a Nissan Altima.
Morales is a former Army Reservist who is also facing child rape charges.
In 2015, the FBI says he stole six assault rifles and 10 handguns from the Lincoln Stoddard Army Reserve Center in Worcester.
Police are asking the public to be on the lookout for Morales, described as a 6-foot, 175-lb. man with a shaved head and large eagle tattoo on the left side of his neck. They say if you see him, do not approach him–call 911 immediately.
Two corrections officers who work at the Wyatt Correctional Center are now on paid leave pending an investigation into Morales’ escape.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Kim Tunnicliffe reports