John Garza, 37, and Arley Nemo, 43, were detained at an IHOP restaurant in Hampton, Virginia, early Tuesday morning. They were discovered missing from the Newport News Jail Annex during a headcount at 7:15 p.m. Monday.
The Newport News Sheriff’s Office says a preliminary investigation found the two inmates exploited a “construction design weakness.” They used tools made from a toothbrush and a metal object, which gave them access to untied rebar. The two used the rebar to further their penetration of the wall.
Authorities say they then escaped through the wall, jumped the jail’s containment wall, and escaped the complex. Officials say they are “reviewing and formulating ways to mitigate the aforementioned facility weakness.”
“I extend my gratitude to the Newport News Police Department, the Hampton Police Department, and the James City County Police Department for their assistance in our attempt to recapture these inmates,” Newport News Sheriff Gabe Morgan said.
“Moreover, I’m thankful for the citizens who observed Garza and Nemo at the IHOP and notified law enforcement. It reinforces what we always say: ‘See something, say something,’” he added.
Garza was imprisoned on charges including contempt of court, probation violations, and failure to appear, and Nemo was imprisoned on charges of credit card fraud, credit card larceny, forgery, possession of burglary tools, grand larceny, contempt of court, and probation violation, according to the Newport News Sheriff’s Office.
Police say charges related to the prison escape are pending and that an internal investigation is being conducted to “minimize the chances of such an event happening again.”