Two Virginia inmates escaped from prison by using a toothbrush to tunnel through the wall of their cell before going to IHOP.
John M. Garza, 37, and Arley V. Nemo, 43, were reported missing from their cell Monday around 7:15 p.m., according to the Newport News Sheriff’s Office. The two were arrested early Tuesday morning in Hampton, about seven miles from the Newport News jail, at an IHOP location.
The sheriff’s office conducted a preliminary investigation that determined the men took advantage of a “vulnerability in the construction design” using “primitive tools constructed of toothbrushes and metal objects” that helped them access loose fibers between the walls. .
They then used the hole punch to make a hole in the wall and climb up, the sheriff’s office said. Once the men were outside the prison cell, they scaled the retaining wall and fled the area.
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John Garza and Arley Nemo were arrested at an IHOP after escaping from jail. (Newport News Sheriff’s Office)
Police arrested them at the IHOP in Hampton a few hours after their escape, using tips from members of the public who spotted them at the restaurant.
“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 trying to recover these inmates,” Sheriff Gabe Morgan said in a statement. “Also, I appreciate the citizens who spotted Garza and Nemo at IHOP and notified law enforcement. It reinforces what we always say, ‘see something, say something.'”
Garza was in custody on multiple charges including contempt of court, probation violations and failure to appear. Nemo was also charged with multiple counts including credit card fraud, credit card theft, forgery, possession of burglary tools, grand larceny, contempt of court and probation violation.
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The prisoners used a toothbrush and a metal object to dig a tunnel in the prison cell wall. (Newport News Sheriff’s Office)
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Both men are expected to face additional charges for the escape.
A Newport News facility management and engineering team is exploring ways to ensure facility safety.
The sheriff’s office said a criminal investigation and an internal investigation are underway to rule out the possibility of another escape.