A Massachusetts man faces several charges after a months-long investigation into an armed robbery on Finntown Road in Waldoboro last September.
Robert Morales, 29, of Westfield, Mass., faces one charge each of class A robbery, class B theft by unauthorized taking or transfer, and class C criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, all felonies; as well as one charge each of class D assault and class D criminal mischief, both misdemeanors, in connection with the Sept. 18, 2019 incident.
Police say Morales was armed with a gun when he and two other men entered a home on Finntown Road and beat the male occupant before leaving with cash, electronics, and a wedding ring. The victim recognized Morales.
The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office obtained a warrant for Morales’ arrest Dec. 6 and the Springfield Police Department, of Massachusetts, arrested him Dec. 30.
LCSO Detective Scott Hayden and Transport Deputy James Read picked him up and took him to Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset, where he posted bail the next day.
He will make his initial appearance at the Lincoln County Courthouse in Wiscasset at 8:30 a.m., Thursday, Jan. 30.
The motive for the alleged robbery remains under investigation, as does the involvement of the two other men, according to Hayden. “I’m hoping more charges will be coming at some point,” he said.
A statement in support of the Dec. 6 warrant indicates that around 11:30 p.m. on Sept. 18, 2019, Officer Thomas Bartunek, of the Waldoboro Police Department, responded to a reported robbery on Finntown Road. The male victim reported that three assailants, including Morales, had assaulted and robbed him earlier in the evening.
According to the statement, the victim had waited to report the crime because the assailants threatened to shoot him if he reported it to law enforcement.
The victim told Bartunek he recognized Morales, who had called his cellphone prior to the robbery. He said the men had taken his cellphone during the robbery.
Bartunek obtained the victim’s cellphone records and provided them to detectives from the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, who found three calls between the victim and the suspect prior to the incident.
Investigators found that the cellphone data corroborated the victim’s story about his cellphone being stolen. Based on location data, the phone appeared to have been taken from the residence and discarded on the side of a road, where it continued to connect to an area cell tower until the battery died.
Bartunek obtained a search warrant for Morales’ phone records, which he forwarded to the sheriff’s office, according to the statement.
Court documents indicate that Morales’ device connected to cell towers in Wiscasset, Newcastle, Damariscotta, Waldoboro, and Cushing from roughly 9-11:05 p.m. on Sept. 18, consistent with movement toward Finntown Road.
According to Hayden’s statement of probable cause, investigators reviewed surveillance video from the victim’s security cameras. Hayden said the suspects cut all the cords to phone lines and a digital video recorder the night of Sept. 18, but did not take the DVR.
Footage recorded by the DVR showed two vehicles pull into the victim’s yard around 10 p.m. Sept. 18. Over the next few minutes, three males enter the residence, at which point the DVR cuts out. Their faces were not clear.
The only cameras were outside. They show two males exiting the residence, according to court documents.
The two vehicles were a Honda Crosstour and possibly a Honda Civic, according to court documents. Hayden connected the Crosstour to Morales through work with police in Brunswick and in Westfield, Mass.
The victim said he suffered an injury to his ear when his head hit a kitchen cabinet as he was being made to lay on the floor. He said he was kicked several times before being ordered to a back bedroom and told not to come out or he would be shot. He stayed in the bedroom about five to 10 minutes after the assailants left, according to court documents.
Court documents state that during the robbery, an iPad, iPad mini, iPhone, and wedding ring were stolen, and a tire on the victim’s vehicle was slashed.
Morales’ bail was set at $10,000 cash. His bail conditions bar him from Finntown Road and prohibit contact with the victim. They prohibit his possession or use of alcohol, drugs, or weapons, and subject him to random searches.
According to Waldoboro Police Chief John Lash, the department asked the sheriff’s office for help due to the agency’s familiarity with and capacity to utilize phone records. He credited Hayden’s gathering of cellphone data as key to the arrest.