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Man charged with making threats on tip line for Texas slayings

April 03, 2013|By Michael Muskal and Molly Hennessy-Fiske
  • Agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives enter the home of Kaufman County, Texas, Dist. Atty. Mike McLelland on Monday as the investigation into the slayings of McLelland and his wife continues.
Agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives… (Tony Gutierrez / Associated…)

KAUFMAN, Texas -- A 56-year-old man is being held in the Kaufman County jail on charges of making threats on a tip line set up as part of the investigation into the slayings of a local prosecutor and his wife.

Officials at the jail confirmed Wednesday morning that Nick Morale, 56, of Terrell, Texas, was being held in lieu of a $1-million bail bond.

In a telephone call with the Los Angeles Times, a jail spokeswoman said that Morale had been arrested Tuesday night and was being held on a charge of “making a terroristic threat.”

Morale is accused of leaving threatening messages on the tip line set up to garner information about the shooting of Kaufman County Dist. Atty. Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, on Saturday.

The spokeswoman said she did not know the details of the charge, but that information was expected to be available later.

It is unclear if the threats are connected to the shooting of the prosecutor or of the Jan. 31 killing of Assistant Dist. Atty. Mark Hasse.

The Dallas Morning News first reported the arrest Wednesday morning.

Investigators are pursuing several theories for the slayings, including one from federal sources who declined to be identified who told The Times that an emerging person of interest was a former local official who made threats after he lost his post because of a corruption probe.

Officials are also looking at other theories, including that an Aryan prison group or a drug cartel may have been involved.

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Michael Muskal reported from Los Angeles. Molly Hennessy-Fiske reported from Kaufman, Texas.

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