VIRGINIA CITY, NV - Authorities are still searching the mountainsides of the Comstock looking for a 38-year-old man who escaped early Monday morning from the Storey County jail. But Sheriff Gerald Antinoro says he thinks it's likely the man has left the county.
Jeremy Morales had already pleaded guilty to a charge of sexual assault on a minor. As part of his plea bargain, he was to have been sentenced later in the morning in Storey County District Court.
At 38 years of age, he was facing spending the next 25 years behind bars.
At about 1:30AM Monday, the deputy on duty was making a routine cell check. Apparently the door to his cell was not locked and Morales was actually hiding in the shadows of an adjacent locked day room.
As the female deputy checked Morales' cell, he slipped out of the day room, locking her behind him.
Once out of the cell area, he was able to work his way past additional security, fleeing into the darkness outside.
"He was looking at up to 25 years in state prison and apparently took his chances where he could," says Sheriff Gerald Antinoro.
Since then the search has been on.
Within hours, adjacent counties had joined and the U-S Marshal's Service had been called in.
Washoe County's Raven helicopter probed the canyons south of Virginia City. Ground crews aided by dogs and a tracker were seeking out his trail.
In broad daylight Morales might not be hard to miss. He was wearing black and white striped jail uniforms and plastic shoes.
"He's not going to make it far in public in that attire, so he's going to have to be finding clothes somewhere," says Antinoro.
So far, the sheriff says there have been no reported break-ins. No clothing or other items missing from area homes.
But the Comstock with all its abandoned buildings and old mines offers a lot of places for someone to hide.
The sheriff is advising residents to make sure to lock up and, if he's seen, take no action, call authorities.
Morales is not armed, but given what he's facing, he could be dangerous.
"In desperate times, desperate people do desperate things."
If cornered, Antinoro says, Morales could be dangerous.
He's described as 38, 5-11, 220 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes.
Secret Witness has posted a $1,000 reward for information leading to his arrest. Their number is 322-4900. Callers may remain anonymous while collecting cash rewards.