Police Recapture 20-Year-Old Escapee After Car Chase Through Haverhill and Plaistow, N.H.

(File photograph.)

A 20-year-old man who escaped from a Lawrence pre-release center was recaptured Tuesday after stealing a car and driving through Haverhill and Plaistow and Sandown, N.H.

Essex County Sheriff’s Department said Joshua Morley walked away from the Essex County Pre-Release and Re-Entry Center early Tuesday morning and allegedly stole a car from a nearby dealership. The car was later located in Haverhill and pursued by police into Sandown, N.H., where it was stopped.

Morley was arrested last July after allegedly elbowing a police officer in the face and threatening him and a detective with a knife when they tried to arrest him for car theft. He was charged with assault and battery on a police officer, assault with a dangerous weapon, carrying a dangerous weapon, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, receiving a stolen vehicle and driving with a suspended license.

According to a report, Haverhill Police unsuccessfully attempted to arrest Morley three times earlier that day on a warrant charging him with car theft. Three officers in separate cruisers later spotted Morley driving Chevy Impala, reported stolen out of New York. They observed him drive along Welcome Street, where he stopped, walked briefly into GAR Park and then returned to the car. Police Officer Michael Shinners approached him back at the car, exposing his badge and gun, while Morley, now seated in the car, attempted to shift the car into gear.

Shinners forced the car shift into park, while arriving Detective Jordan Bergevine grabbed Morley’s feet to keep him from accelerating. After Shinners turned off the ignition, the officer reported, Morley “became more frantic,” and his left elbow struck Shinners in the face, causing a bloody nose. Morley then reached into the center console and grabbed a Wild Turkey folding knife. Shinners, who described himself as “fearing for his own safety as well as Det. Bergevine,” grabbed Morley’s wrists while Bergevine punched the man in the face to get him to drop the weapon.

Morley is being held at Rockingham County Jail in Brentwood, N.H. and expected to face felony charges filed by the Lawrence, Plaistow and Sandown Police departments. The Essex County Sheriff’s Department will also be filing criminal charges.

Morley has been held by the Essex County Sheriff’s Department since his court sentencing last October. He was moved from the Middleton House of Correction to the lower-security Pre-Release and Re-Entry Center April 6.

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