Authorities are now offering $50,000 for information leading to the apprehension of three men who escaped from a maximum-security jail in Orange County, Calif.
This comes amid a flurry of questions about why it took authorities 16 hours to realize the men were missing.
The men escaped from the Men’s Central Jail in Santa Ana on Friday, and all three are charged with violent crimes. Hossein Nayeri, 37; Jonathan Tieu, 20; and Bac Duong, 43, were last seen during an inmate count at 5 a.m. local time on Friday.
The Associated Press reports:
“The investigation was focused on suburban communities where the men could be hiding among friends, family or fellow gang members, authorities said Monday, the third full day of the manhunt.
“They looked in particular to Orange County’s huge Vietnamese population, among the largest in the U.S., in Garden Grove and Westminster just a few miles from the Santa Ana jail where Friday’s escape took place.”
Orange County Sheriff’s Lt. Jeff Hallock told reporters that “investigators believe the inmates moved through plumbing tunnels and ultimately ended up on the roof in an unsecured area where they were able to rappel down to the ground using a makeshift rope. Then they fled on foot,” member station KPCC reports.
The Sheriff’s Department released photos on Twitter illustrating how authorities think the prisoners escaped.
The photos show the heavy-duty metal screen that the inmates likely cut through:
And the improvised rope they may have used to get down from the roof:
The complexity of the escape is raising questions about whether the men had inside help. “These aren’t tools that can be made out of dental floss,” Merrick Bobb, who has overseen reforms of the LA County jail system, told the Los Angeles Times. “Such cutting creates a lot of noise, and it would have to be covered up.”
As the Times reports, the escape has prompted questions about “why inmates accused of violent crimes were housed in dormitories rather than individual cells, which is the practice at other jails and prisons in the state.”
Duong is charged with attempted murder and assault, and Tieu is charged with murder and attempted murder, the Orange Country District Attorney’s Office said in a news release. Tieu is also accused of belonging to a criminal gang at the time of his crime.
Nayeri is accused of torture and kidnapping for ransom, among other charges. The district attorney’s office says Nayeri and two other suspects allegedly spent four weeks planning to kidnap the owner of a marijuana dispensary, nabbing him and a woman who was in the house at the time. This is what they allegedly did, according to the press release:
“The defendants are accused of driving the victims to the desert near the area where they believed John Doe was hiding money. They are accused of continuing to torture John Doe throughout the drive by burning him with a blow torch. Once in the desert, the defendants are accused of sexually mutilating the victim by cutting off his penis. They are accused of pouring bleach on the victim in an effort to destroy any DNA evidence and dumping both victims on the side of the road.”
The marijuana dispensary owner survived, according to the district attorney’s office, after the woman left with him was able to run more than a mile and get help “while still bound with zip ties.”