Escaped California Inmates Had 16-Hour Head Start On Authorities, $50K Reward Offered For Capture

The three escaped California inmates who broke out of a Southern California jail on Saturday may have been gone for as long as 16 hours before authorities realized they were missing, giving the violent criminals a giant head start and complicating efforts to recapture them, NPR News is reporting.

Hossein Nayeri, 37; Jonathan Tieu, 20; and Bac Duong, 43, were all last seen at the maximum security Orange County Jail during an inmate count at 5:00 a.m. Friday. Authorities did not realize the inmates were missing until a 9:00 p.m. count, according to KPCC (Pasadena).

Investigators believe the inmates sawed through steel screens in their cells and made their way into the prison’s plumbing tunnels. From there they were able to make their way to the roof, where they rappelled down to the ground using makeshift ropes, then fled the prison on foot.

Because of the complexity of the escape, authorities are concerned that the escaped inmates might have had help on the inside. L.A. County Jail official Merrick Bobb points out that the inmates would have had to use sophisticated tools to accomplish their escape, as well as make a lot of noise.

“These aren’t tools that can be made out of dental floss. Such cutting creates a lot of noise, and it would have to be covered up.”

Also confounding authorities is the fact that there should have been a count at 8:00 p.m., but a “disturbance” prevented it. Authorities are trying to piece together if the disturbance was a planned distraction to aid in the inmates’ escape.

The three escaped inmates are considered dangerous and possibly armed. All were awaiting trial for violent felonies, according to Yahoo News.

Bac Duong

Duong, 43, is accused of shooting a man on his front porch in Santa Ana during a burglary. He faces charges of attempted murder, assault, and burglary. He also has an extensive rap sheet, with convictions for various drug crimes, receiving stolen property, and burglary.

Jonathan Tieu

Tieu, 20, was 15 when he allegedly shot a rival gang member, 19-year-old Scottie Bui, outside a pool hall. Prosecutors say Tieu was a member of the Vietnamese street gang known as TRG — Tiny Rascal Gang — and was looking for a member of rival gang Power of Vietnam when he and two other accomplices shot Bui. Tieu had been housed in a juvenile detention facility until he was transferred to an adult facility when he turned 18.

Hossein Nayeri

Nayeri, 37, is a former Marine who, according to Fox News, is so “diabolical, sophisticated, incredibly violent and cunning” that Deputy District Attorney Heather Brown compared him to Hannibal Lecter, the cannibal villain in Silence of the Lambs. Nayeri is accused, along with accomplices, of kidnapping the owner of a medical marijuana dispensary.

Nayeri and his accomplices believed that the owner had buried a large amount of money in the desert. They kidnapped the owner and took him to where they believed the money was buried, torturing him with a blowtorch throughout the ordeal. Once out in the middle of the desert, Nayeri allegedly ordered another suspect to cut off the owner’s penis, then dumped him on the side of a road.

Nayeri escaped to Iran and evaded authorities for several months, before being arrested in Prague and returned to the U.S.

The three escaped inmates are believed to have made their way to a densely populated section of Orange County, where they hope to blend in. Further, Duong, and Tieu may be getting help from Orange County’s Vietnamese community.

As of this writing, the reward for the capture of the escaped California inmates is $50,000.

[Image via California Department of Corrections via CNN]