Norwalk Police Chief Harry Rilling announced Wednesday two arrests in a crime he described as both "brutal" and "heinous" – the murder of 32-year-old Jose Joaquin Morales on Oct, 10, 2009 at the Miracle Shell Station on West Avenue.
Alain Leconte, 22, and Mustafa Jacobs, 24, both formerly of Stamford, will be arraigned Thursday at Norwalk Superior Court on charges of felony murder and first-degree robbery in the case.
Rilling said that on the night in question, at least two men walked into the Shell station. "It was early morning hours," he said. "They walked in, they demanded that people lie on the floor and cooperate with them. The attendant on duty at the time was asked to go behind the counter. He opened the register. He came back out from behind the counter. He was asked to lie on the floor, and as they were walking out the door, totally free to walk out the door, one individual fired a shot and hit him in the back of the head."
Published reports indicate that the assailants were wearing masks and hoodies.
Rilling also announced the arrests of Taran Nelson, 23, of Waterbury, and David Wash, 37, for a Nov. 21, 2009 Greenwich Mobil on the Run robbery, which police say is connected to the Norwalk robbery and homicide. The clerk there was also shot in the back of the head, but survived.
Each was charged with first-degree robbery and first-degree conspiracy to commit robbery.
Leconte is alleged to be involved in both incidents.
"We can safely say that the one individual was certainly connected and perhaps garnered the assistance of others to work with him in committing these crimes," said Rilling.
Leconte is also alleged to be involved in a Stamford robbery; the gun used there has been linked to the Greenwich crime.
Polices departments from Greenwich, Stamford and Norwalk worked together in conjunction with the state attorney's office to make the arrests. As they worked, they were comfortable in the knowledge that those suspected of the killings were off the street.
Leconte is in Walker Correctional Institution on robbery and narcotics charges. Jacobs is serving a 10 year prison sentence at Northern Correctional Institution for various narcotics charges.
"We identified them as suspects," Rilling said. "At one point they were incarcerated for a variety of charges. We knew that they weren't really going to be able to go anyplace and that we did have time to shore up all the loose ends to make sure that we had all of our ducks in a row. To develop a case of this nature is very complex and you want to make sure you have everything covered so later on there is nothing that you missed, nothing that comes out in court that perhaps should have been done a different way."
The Norwalk investigation was headed by Det. James O'Leary. A pattern began to emerge when the Greenwich robbery occurred. "We haven't had an execution style homicide like that in years and all of a sudden we got two of them, within one month and 10 miles," he said. "That was quite enough to have us going in that direction."
Rilling and others involved hope the arrests help Morales' family find some peace, saying. "This was certainly a heinous crime that shocked the conscience of the community - that anybody could be so coldblooded as to do something, as the mayor said, virtually assassinate a person unprovoked. This person was complying with all of the requests of the individuals. And when we see something like this it tends to challenge the entire department, it tends to challenge the entire community."