Police: Inmates caught at IHOP after using toothbrush to escape jail

Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 1:43 AM CDT|Updated: Mar. 22, 2023 at 1:44 AM CDT
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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WTKR) - The Newport News Sheriff’s Office says two inmates tunneled a hole in a cell wall to escape from the city jail building Monday evening.

Arley Nemo and John Garza were able to exploit a construction design weakness in the building by using a toothbrush and a metal object to make the hole, according to the sheriff’s office.

Once outside, they scaled a security wall and escaped.

The jail annex is a minimum-security facility. The two were discovered missing during a routine headcount.

It was a tip from the public that led police to an IHOP in Hampton where the two were reportedly eating at around 3 a.m. Tuesday morning.

The two were taken into custody without incident.

Newport News police were among the law enforcement officers involved in the search for the two inmates.

“By the grace of God, I’m glad no one was injured and we were able to locate them and get them back into custody,” Newport News Police Chief Steve Drew says.

Garza had been in custody since December on several charges, including probation violations.

Nemo had been in custody since October on charges including credit card fraud.

The sheriff’s office says engineers are reviewing the building weaknesses and researching ways to address them.

Garza and Nemo are both back in custody and at the regular jail where charges for the escape are pending.