[PHOTO CREDIT: Lake County Sheriff’s Office]
[Original Publish Date: 07/28/20]
CLERMONT, Florida — A 26-year-old pregnant woman was stabbed multiple times Thursday by her registered sex offender neighbor who may have been stalking her, according to an arrest affidavit.
Clermont Police responded to Hillside Villas, 698 South Grand Highway, Clermont shortly after 5 p.m. Thursday in reference to a vehicle crash, and on the way to the scene, officers were advised a pregnant woman had been stabbed.
When they arrived, police found a blue Chevrolet Camaro had hit a parked, red Dodge Challenger and the driver of the Camaro had been stabbed multiple times. The victim had four puncture wounds to her chest, four wounds to the left arm and a laceration across her face, the arresting detective noted in the affidavit.
After being transported to a local hospital, the victim told a CPD detective she pulled into the apartment complex and saw her neighbor, Jerry Morales, 57, walking and he waved at her to stop. The victim rolled down her window only halfway because she felt uncomfortable around Morales, the detective noted in the affidavit. Morales then accused the victim of cheating on her significant other, which she denied, and Morales allegedly told her he had a knife and to get out of the car. Morales threatened to kill her, according to the affidavit, and then he stabbed her in the chest. The woman attempted to move the car forward to escape and Morales stabbed her in the face. She then accelerated and crashed.
The victim told the detective she had reported Morales to CPD in December 2019 for threatening to fight her boyfriend after she told Morales to stop texting her. The victim’s family members told police the victim had mentioned that Morales appeared to be watching her when she came from work each day, “leading her family to believe Morales was stalking her,” the affidavit states. Morales had multiple run-ins with the victim’s family members, including trying to provoke physical fights.
Police searched for Morales and found him in the area of 14322 South Grand Highway, lying in a thicket containing knee-high water, mud and grass and he was secured. As an officer was escorting Morales back to where the patrol cars were parked, he attempted to grab an officer’s holstered gun and he was taken down, according to the affidavit. A knife was found on South Grand Highway and taken into evidence, but the victim was unable to identify it.
Morales was taken to a local hospital after reporting pain in his ankle and officers believed he was under the influence of an unknown substance. He was later booked into the Lake County Jail on charges of attempted first degree murder and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. He is being held on $180,000 bond.
Our Editor-in-Chief, Marilyn M. Aciego, began writing for Lake Legal News in 2010. Born and raised in Lake County, she is a graduate of Umatilla High School and Lake-Sumter State College. She started her journalism career at LSSC, where she was editor of both student publications, The Angler and The Odyssey. Her professional career began at the Daily Commercial in 2004 where she covered cops and courts the majority of her time there until she left in 2009. Currently, along with being Editor-in-Chief of Lake Legal News, she is the Florida bureau chief for an international media organization. She has made more than two dozen appearances on live national television, including Nancy Grace and the Greta Van Susteren show, along with her appearance on Evil Twins. Contact her with breaking news, tips, and feedback by sending an e-mail to 352Tips@gmail.com. You can also contact us on our Facebook page — and make sure you “Like” and “Follow us” there. [PHOTO CREDIT: Bonnie Whicher]