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Man charged with 'terroristic threat' in Texas county where DA killed

After Kaufman County district attorney Mike McClelland and his wife were found shot to death on Saturday, authorities are widening their search for the killer, looking into possible ties to local cases the DA's office prosecuted. NBC's Gabe Gutierrez.

A man was arrested Wednesday and charged with making a threat over the phone in Kaufman County, Texas — where multiple law enforcement agencies are investigating the double-slaying of the district attorney and his wife.

A man has been arrested and charged with making a terroristic threat in connection with the slayings of two Texas prosecutors.

Nick Morale, 56, of Carroll is being held on $1 million bail in Kaufman County jail, Lt. Justin Lewis of the Kaufman County Sheriff’s Office said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

Lewis emphasized that at this time nothing links Morale to the murders of county District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, in their home on Saturday, or the Jan. 31 slaying of Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse.


The alleged threats, he said, were made on a phone hotline being used during the course of the investigation into the killings.

Morale was arrested on Tuesday and charged with one count of “terroristic threat,” Lewis said. Other specific details on the case were not provided.

According to the criminal complaint, the local Crime Stoppers tip line received a call "of a threatening nature" on April 1 at 1:43 p.m. The caller indicated who would be the next victim.

The specific target Morale allegedly threatened was not publicly named by officials, who said only that the person was a “county individual.”


“Making threats against persons carries criminal penalties under state and federal law, with some of those penalties being pretty severe,” Lewis said. “All threats will taken seriously.”

The investigation into the Kaufman County murders, in which hundreds of FBI, Texas Rangers and Kaufman County law enforcement officers are deployed, continues, officials said.

No suspect or person of interest in the McLelland killings has been named.

Earlier, a former judge in Kaufman County who lost his job when he was convicted of theft said he was questioned by agents investigating the double slaying over the weekend. Eric Williams, who once was a justice of the peace, said he had nothing to do with the McLellands' killings.

Investigators are looking into a number of theories in the case, including whether a white supremacist prison gang called the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas might have been involved, federal prosecutors told NBC News. Other possible leads may point to drug cartels or a single, angry gunman.

Yet none of the theories stands out as a likely explanation for the shocking killings, a federal source told NBC News.

NBC News’ Matthew DeLuca, Gabe Gutierrez and Pete Williams contributed to this report.

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