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Escaped Inmates Captured Eating Breakfast At IHOP After Tunneling Through Jail Cell Wall

Newport News, VA – Two Virginia jail inmates were arrested at an IHOP restaurant early Tuesday morning after they managed to escape from the correctional facility by chiseling their way through the wall of their cell.

The Newport News Sheriff’s Office (NNSO) said detention center personnel were conducting a routine headcount at the Newport News Jail Annex at approximately 7:15 p.m. on March 20 when they realized two inmates were missing, WVEC reported.

The escaped inmates were identified as 37-year-old John Michael Garza and 43-year-old Arley Vaughn Nemo.

NNSO officials searched the facility and discovered the two men had “tunneled through a cell wall leading to the exterior and proceeded to scale the security wall,” according to WVEC.

Investigators said they believe Nemo and Garza exploited “a construction design weakness” in the building by utilizing “primitive-made tools” constructed from “a toothbrush and a metal object” to chisel their way through the brick wall, WRC reported.

“Those tools facilitated their access to untied rebars between the walls,” the NNSO said.

Deputies tracked the two escaped inmates down at an IHOP restaurant in nearby Hampton at approximately 4:20 a.m. on March 21, WRC reported.

They were apprehended by Hampton police and have since been returned to the jail facility.

The Hampton Police Department (HPD) said officers responded to the restaurant after receiving a tip that the two escaped inmates were there, WVEC reported.

They said they arrived to find Nemo and Garza eating breakfast.

Hampton is located approximately six-and-one-half miles away from the Newport News Jail, according to WRC.

It would take just over two hours for the average person to cover the distance on foot.

Nemo had been incarcerated at the jail since Oct. 7, 2022 on charges of credit card larceny, credit card fraud, possession of burglary tools, forgery, contempt of court, grand larceny, and probation violation, WRC reported.

Garza had been in jail since Dec. 19, 2022 on charges of probation violation, contempt of court, and failure to appear.

It is unclear what additional charges they may face as a result of their escape.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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