[SIZE=5]Fondness for feet leads to jail[/SIZE]
[SIZE=4]Police nabbed a man they say has been stalking women in Little Havana by breaking into their homes -- and fondling their feet.[/SIZE]
BY DEBBIE CENZIPER
Police say Gilmer Felipe Morales is a felon with a foot fetish.
They say the 22-year-old man prowled the neighborhoods of the Little Havana area at night, broke into homes and crawled into beds beside sleeping women -- caressing their feet and legs until they woke up and chased him away.
On Friday, Morales was behind bars after being arrested and charged with five counts of burglary and one count of sexual assault.
More charges are likely, said police, who have linked forensic evidence to Morales in at least 11 separate incidents. They say he could be connected to as many as 35 burglaries. The victims range in age from their mid-20s to mid-60s.
Morales typically entered homes through windows and, on one occasion, scaled an outdoor drain pipe, top Miami police officials said Friday at a news conference to announce the arrest.
''He had some serious problem with breaking into houses and terrorizing women,'' Miami police Lt. John Buhrmaster said.
Said Miami Police Chief John Timoney: ``It was almost like [he had] a foot fetish, rubbing the feet and the lower extremities.''
Morales was being held in the Dade County Jail. A bond hearing is scheduled for this morning.
Police say Morales has no prior criminal record and illegally migrated to the United States from his native Honduras two years ago through Texas before eventually settling in Little Havana.
He earned a living repairing tires.
The events leading up to his arrest began earlier this year when police began tracking a series of odd burglaries in Miami's Flagami neighborhood, south of Miami International Airport.
Early on, police suspected they were dealing with a possible peeping Tom. But the reports of crime grew more serious, with victims telling police they had woken up to find a man in their beds. One woman said she found a man touching himself.
None of the victims reported being raped.
Police enlisted the help of a profiler from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to help identify a suspect.
That profile and the good instincts of Miami police crime-scene technician Ralph Garcia helped investigators nab Morales, police said.
Garcia was working at an unrelated crime scene in Little Havana earlier this week when he heard a dog barking and saw a man scampering through a gate of a nearby house.
The man fit the description of the serial burglar sought by police. The man got into a car, and Garcia confronted him. While radioing for backup, the man fled on foot.
Police, however, lifted fingerprints and ran the car's tags, quickly determining that Morales was the driver. On Thursday, after setting up surveillance, they picked him up on Southwest Eighth and 49th Streets.
''When I saw him,'' Garcia said, ``I knew it was him. . . . He was more shocked than I was.''