Child rape suspect arrested for Massachusetts military weapons theft

© Phil Noble
Police have arrested a former Army reservist for stealing 16 military weapons from a Massachusetts armory. Evidence from surveillance video, DNA, and an electronic monitoring bracelet led to his quick arrest. He was already facing child rape charges.

James Walker Morales, 34, was arrested on Wednesday in New York and charged with unlawful possession of a machine gun, two counts of possession of stolen firearms, and the theft of government property, according to court documents.

Morales allegedly broke into the US Army Reserve Center in Worcester on Saturday, cut a hole in the roof of the drill room, used a power saw to break into the vault, and stole 16 military weapons, including six M-4 rifles and 10 sig Sauer M11 9mn pistols. The theft was discovered on Sunday.

According to court documents, the M-4 rifles [machine guns] are equipped with a toggle switch that allows them to fire a single shot or a three round burst with each single pull of the trigger. It is not known whether the weapons have been retrieved.

The FBI said surveillance cameras near the Army Reserve facility recorded the theft. Video shows a man with duffle bags exiting a vehicle parked near the facility at 6:43 pm, who then walks towards the facility. He returns to the vehicle later without the bags and then returns to the facility with more. He is later seen making several trips from the car to the facility with and without duffle bags until around midnight, when the vehicle finally leaves.

Other evidence leading to his speedy arrest came from blood stains found at the scene that helped identify Morales as the thief, according to local WPRI. Blood was found on the wall of the exterior of the weapons vault, on a pillar supporting the ceiling of the drill room, and inside the vault. DNA from the blood stains was sent to an FBI lab for testing. It was found to match Morales’ DNA, which was in a national database due to a criminal conviction, according to the FBI.

Morales was also identified due to an electronic monitoring bracelet he was wearing during the break-in, which was a condition of his bail for a child rape case. Morales had already been charged with child rape and indecent assault on a child under 14 in May. The bracelet placed Morales “directly inside” the facility during the break-in, according to the FBI.

A warrant was issued for Morales on November 16, when he cut off the monitoring bracelet, according to court documents.

Morales joined the US Army Reserve in 2008 and was said to have visited the Army Reserve Center on November 12 to pick up his discharge papers. It is not clear when he was discharged from the reserve, according to the FBI.

Morales had previously been convicted of aggravated assault and battery in 2013 after an incident in Summerville, Massachusetts. He was sentenced to one year in jail, but the sentence was suspended and he never served any time.