Violent tendencies of escaped inmate worry former neighbors

By: Kathryn Burcham

Updated:

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - The search for a Cambridge man who escaped from a Rhode Island prison is focused on Massachusetts after the suspect allegedly stole a car in Attleboro Saturday night.

Investigators say James Morales climbed over razor wire at the Wyatt Detention facility in Rhode Island Saturday night before shedding his prison clothes, stealing a car and disappearing.

The warden told FOX25 two prison staffers are on leave as investigators work to determine if Morales had any help on the inside to make his escape.

The news of Morales’ daring prison escape traveled from the Wyatt Detention facility to his old neighborhood in Cambridge, where his former neighbors are worried.

“I said oh my God, he broke out. What if he comes around here?” a woman who didn’t want to be identified told FOX25.

She said she has been keeping her doors and windows locked since she heard the news. She told FOX25 she overheard loud arguments and fights – glimpses, she said, into his violent tendencies.  

“It's scary, because he lived upstairs,” she said.

She was so scared, she asked us to hide her identity as the manhunt for Morales intensifies.

The prison warden told FOX25 Morales was last accounted for during a head count Saturday evening.

Sometime after 7 p.m., Morales climbed up a basketball hoop, cut through the fencing above the outdoor recreation area and then jumped roof top to roof top before climbing down over the razor wire fence.

Shortly after, state police say Morales stole a woman's car outside of an Attleboro convenience store.

Police say they found the car abandoned Sunday night, but aren't saying where.

Investigators have been questioning Morales’ friends and family as they work to bring him back into federal custody.

“I don't think he's gonna come around Cambridge, but if he does, I'm gonna be on the safe side and not keep any doors open,” his neighbor said. 

Morales was being held in Rhode Island, while he awaits trial for allegedly stealing 16 guns from an Army Reserve center in Worcester in 2015.

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