Nick Morale jail mugshot (Kaufman Co. Sheriff)
Police investigating the shooting deaths of two Texas prosecutors have arrested a man for allegedly phoning in a threat to a hotline dedicated to the case.
Authorities say Nick Morale, 56, called a Crime Stoppers tip line Monday afternoon and said another county official would be the next victim. Police did not reveal who Morale said would be targeted.
The threatening call came two days after police discovered the bodies of Kaufman County, Texas, District Attorney Mike McLelland, 63, and his wife, Cynthia, 65. They were shot to death in their home 30 miles east of Dallas late Friday or early Saturday.
Two months earlier, Mark Hasse, a prosecutor in McLelland’s office, was gunned down while walking from his car to the courthouse in Kaufman.
Investigators still have no suspects.
The high-profile assassinations have rattled the small northeast Texas community where judges and prosecutors are now being provided extra security protection.
"At this time, there is nothing to link Mr. Morale to the murders of Mike and Cynthia McLelland or Mark Hasse," Lt. Justin Lewis with the Kaufman County Sheriff’s Department said during a press conference. "All threats will be taken seriously, investigated and prosecuted in order to ensure the safety of citizens and public officials."
According to the arrest warrant, police said Morale tried to make the call anonymously by blocking his caller ID feature. However, investigators obtained phone records and traced the call back to Morale.
Morale, who according to public records has previous arrests for trespassing and unlawfully carrying a weapon, was arraigned Wednesday morning and charged with making a "terroristic" threat. He is being held in the Kaufman County jail on $1,000,000 bond. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted.
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