Athens Review, Athens, Texas

April 3, 2013

KC makes arrest

Officer: No link to murders of prosecutors ‘at this time’

Kathi Nailling
The Athens Review

Athens — KAUFMAN — Kaufman County Sheriff's spokesperson Lt. Justin Lewis confirmed Wednesday the arrest of Nick Morale, 56, of Terrell on April 2 by the Texas Rangers on one charge of terroristic threat. Morale is being held in the Kaufman County Jail on $1,000,000 bond.

According to Lewis, during the course of the investigation into the murder of Kaufman County District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, a threat was made against the safety of a Kaufman County official. The threat was investigated, leading to the arrest of Morale.

The complaint against Morale states the Crimestoppers tip line received a call on April 1 of a threatening nature. The caller stated there would be another victim, whose name was redacted in a criminal complaint against Morale released by the sheriff's office. The call details were obtained by the Eric W. Wilson, Texas Department of Public Safety.  The complaint stated the phone belonged to Nick Morale. The complaint stated Morale had blocked the caller ID feature in an effort to conceal his identity and remain anonymous.

Lewis said, “At this time, there is nothing to link Mr. Morale to the investigation of the murders of Mike and Cynthia McLelland or Mark Haase. The investigation into the death of the McLellands and Haase is ongoing.”

McLelland and his wife were killed early Saturday in their home outside of Forney. The murders occurred just two months after Haase, a Kaufman County assistant district attorney, was gunned down in a parking lot near the Kaufman County Courthouse.

Meanwhile, a memorial service for the McLellands is scheduled for today at 1 p.m. at Sunnyvale First Baptist Church located at 3018 N. Beltline Road in Sunnyvale. The couple's funeral will be held on Friday at 10 a.m. at First Baptist Church of Wortham. According to the Associated Press, burial will follow in Wortham, Mr. McLelland's hometown. Mrs. McLelland will be cremated and her ashes buried in the casket with her husband.

The Kaufman County Courthouse and other county offices will be closed on Thursday at 11 a.m. The offices will remain closed the remainder of the day to honor the McLellands. Offices will reopen on Friday.

KCSO released a statement informing the media that it would be updated at the Kaufman County Law Enforcement Center with all future information on the murders. The release read in part, “To alleviate the pressures put on the businesses on the square, the citizens trying to enter into the courthouse to conduct daily business, other victims of crime coming into the courthouse who are frightened by the extensive media presence, as well as the need for quick entry and exit by emergency personnel into the courthouse area in the event of a medical or fire emergency, all information will be released from the Law Enforcement Center.

Kaufman County Crimestoppers is currently offering a reward of $100,00 for information leading to the arrest of the individual who is responsible for the Haase murder. A reward for information about the McLelland murders has not been announced yet. KCSO asks anyone with information on the murders to contact Kaufman County Crimestoppers' tip line at 877-847-7522 or online at KaufmanCountyCrimestoppers.org