Two Virginia inmates were found at an IHOP restaurant after they escaped by digging a hole with tools made from a toothbrush and a metal object, authorities said.
John M. Garza, 37, and Arley V. Nemo, 43, were re-arrested early Tuesday hours after they broke free from the Newport News Jail Annex, the Newport News Sheriff’s Office said.
Jail staff members discovered Garza and Nemo were missing from their cell during a routine head count at about 7:15 p.m. Monday. Authorities believe the two men found a "construction design weakness" in the wall and created "primitive-made tools constructed from a toothbrush and metal object" to escape, a news release said.
"Those tools facilitated their access to untied rebars between the walls. Once gaining access to the rebar, they used it to further make their escape. Once outside but still within the containment wall, Garza and Nemo proceeded to scale the wall and departed the area," the agency said.
Tips helped police track Garza and Nemo to a 24-hour IHOP on Mercury Boulevard in Hampton, about 7 miles from the jail, the sheriff's office said. Hampton police were called to the restaurant around 3:30 a.m. Tuesday and arrested them without incident, a Hampton police spokesperson said.
Sheriff Gabe Morgan thanked the community for its assistance.
"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," he said in a statement. "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.'"
Garza had been in custody on several charges, including contempt of court, probation violations and failure to appear. Nemo was being held on numerous charges, including credit card fraud, credit card larceny, forgery, possession of burglary tools, grand larceny, contempt of court and probation violation.
Charges related to the escape are pending, the sheriff's office said. A criminal and an internal investigation are also being conducted as the sheriff's office works to prevent such an escape from happening again.