Three inmates escaped from Central Jail Complex (Orange County), in downtown Santa Ana, California, on Friday, January 22. They are likely armed and extremely dangerous. Authorities are offering a $50,000 award for information that leads to the re-arrest of Hossein Nayeri, Jonathan Tieu, and Bac Duong.
Nayeri (pictured on the left), 37, had been held without bond since September 2014. In 2012, he, and three other men, were accused of kidnapping and torturing a California dispensary owner. The four men allegedly drove the man to a place in the desert where they thought he had money hidden and cut off his penis. Nayeri then fled to Iran, but was arrested in Prague when changing flights.
Twenty-year-old Tieu (pictured center) was held in the jail on $1 million bond since October 2013 and charged with murder, attempted murder, and firing a weapon at an inhabited dwelling. It is believed that his case is gang related.
Duong, 43, was held without bond since December 2015 and charged with attempted murder and being an ex-felon in possession of a gun, along with other charges.
All were awaiting trial for violent offenses, including attempted murder, when they broke out of jail. Lieutenant Jeff Hallock stated at a Friday afternoon new conferences that authorities believe the escape occurred after a 5 a.m. Friday head count. Officials released a statement, per the Orange County Register.
We’ve gotten a number of what I would call very good tips that have got us on the right track. As far as actual sightings of the individuals we have not (received any information).
A manhunt is now underway for the three men who managed to escape by cutting through steel bars, making their way through plumbing tunnels and using sheets to pull themselves over a barbed wire roof. They then designed a makeshift rope of towels and sheets, which they used to reach the street, which is four stories below. Their escape was on foot, and they were last seen wearing orange jail jumpsuits.
Hallock said it was a “well thought out and planned escape” that took weeks or months to prepare, according to CNN News.
Over 10 hours elapsed between the time the inmates were last seen and when they were discovered missing at the 8 p.m. head count. Hallock said there was a disturbance at the facility, which may have delayed jail officials from noticing that the men were gone. Law enforcement believes the incident may have been part of the escape plan.
Hallock stated that “small pieces of evidence” were collected, and investigators will look at camera footage to gather more clues, per CBS News. He added it was the first escape from the jail, which houses 900, in 20 years. Investigators are working with the FBI and U.S. marshals to find the suspects.
Questions have arisen concerning where the inmates got the tools to cut through the steel bars. It appears, according to Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens, that the inmates were allowed free access through security check points.
Several teams are following up on leads in Orange County and other counties. Investigators are questioning anyone who has had a relationship with the escapees. Family and acquaintances are cooperating. Law enforcement has also contacted those who have worked on the case, as well as victims, in an attempt to assure that everyone is safe.
Hutchens also said that the Central Jail Complex is a facility that was built in the 1960s. The design permits inmates to move around the building in order to obtain services. Newer facilities are constructed in a way that services are brought to the inmates, which appears to be a safer and more efficient measure of tracking their whereabouts.
It is not known whether the escapees stayed together or split up. If anyone spots the individuals, they are warned not to approach them but to call 911.
[Photo via Orange County Sheriff’s Department]