Inmates Escaped, Recaptured in 12 Hours

Prison cells | Image by txking

Two inmates who tunneled out from the Newport News Jail Annex were recaptured one city away and less than 12 hours later at an IHOP in Hampton, Virginia, the Newport News Sheriff’s Office reported on Tuesday. 

John Garza, 37, and Arley Nemo, 43, were discovered missing during a head count on Monday, March 20, prompting an investigation around 7:15 p.m. that found they had tunneled through a cell wall, said the NNSO in a press release. 

Garza has been in custody since December 19, 2022, for charges including contempt of court, probation violations, and failure to appear. Nemo has been in custody since October 7, 2022, for charges including credit card fraud, credit card theft, forgery, possession of burglary tools, grand larceny, contempt of court, and probation violation, per NBC 5 DFW.

Garza and Nemo allegedly used “primitive-made” tools constructed from a toothbrush and metal object to access untied rebars between the walls, per the NNSO. Once Garza and Nemo were outside, but still within the walls, they “proceeded to scale the wall and departed the area.”

The Newport News Sheriff’s Office began a search for the two men, collaborating with the Newport News Police Department and the Hampton Police Department. The pursuit ended at approximately 4:20 a.m. on Tuesday, when the two inmates were found at an IHOP restaurant in Hampton, Virginia, about six and a half miles away from the jail, per NBC 5.

The Hampton police arrested Garza and Nemo, and they were returned to custody in Newport News. Charges related to the escape are still pending.

Sheriff Gabe Morgan is grateful for the Newport News Police Department, the Hampton Police Department, the James City County Police Department, and the citizens who spotted the escaped inmates for their assistance in attempting to recapture the inmates. 

“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,” said Sheriff Gabe Morgan, per the NNSO. “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.”

The NNSO press release says the office has begun criminal and internal investigations that are “ongoing as the Sheriff’s Office works to minimize the chances of such an event happening again.”

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