Pictured: Jim Hogg County deputies patrolled Hebbronville Wednesday after Abel Morin escaped from jail. Photo by CHRISTOPHER MAHER

Search continues for rapist who escaped from Jim Hogg jail

Christopher Maher, Alice Echo-News Journal

HEBBRONVILLE - A San Diego man who was given five life sentences Monday for raping a mother and her daughter escaped from jail Tuesday night and remains at large.

Abel Morin Jr. escaped from the Jim Hogg County jail in Hebbronville shortly after 11:30 p.m., Jim Hogg County Sheriff Erasmo Alarcon Jr. said Wednesday.

The county jail, which can hold up to 18 inmates, is located in the 200 block of Galbraith Street in downtown Hebbronville.

Morin was reportedly taken to the jail by deputies from the Duval County Sheriff's Department and escaped while he was being processed.

"Somewhere between where the booking station is and where he was going to be taken back, he ran," Alarcon said. "We're still investigating that."

Morin was not shackled at the time of his escape, and part of his orange jumpsuit was found 600 yards from the jail.

Tracking dogs from the Texas Department of Corrections followed his scent several blocks to the north, but lost the trail, Alarcon said.

In addition to Jim Hogg County deputies, officials with the Department of Public Safety, the U.S. Border Patrol, the Duval County Sheriff's Department and the Texas Rangers were assisting in the search Wednesday.

All three schools in the Hebbronville area were informed of the escape, and administrators were asked to take extra precautions.

Counselor Susana Garza, at Hebbronville High School, said teachers were provided with a photograph of Morin and were receiving updates from the sheriff's department.

"We're just keeping vigilant," Garza said. "We're monitoring the situation, making sure nothing is out of the ordinary."

Garza said the school checked its class rolls to ensure every student was accounted for and had no unexplained absences.

Concerned that Morin may have broken into someone's home to hide, Alarcon said his deputies had also gone to local businesses to check for unexplained absences of employees.

"Right now, we're worried about the safety of the community," Alarcon said.

Morin was sentenced Monday to five concurrent life sentences for raping a San Diego woman and daughter in 2006.

Morin's trial was held in November at the Jim Hogg County Courthouse, less than four blocks from where he escaped.

A Jim Hogg County jury found Morin guilty of two counts of sexual assault, one count of aggravated sexual assault, one count of aggravated kidnapping and one count of burglary of a habitation in connection with the July 22, 2006 incident.

Morin has a prior conviction in 2001 in Jim Wells County for aggravated sexual assault of a child.

If Morin is located, residents are advised to contact law enforcement and to stay away from him.

"Don't approach him. He is dangerous," Alarcon said. "He didn't have any weapons at the time, but now, with the number of hours that have gone by he could have acquired anything."

Alarcon asked residents to report suspicious activity to the Jim Hogg County Sheriff's Department at 361-527-3710.