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Inmates caught at IHOP after allegedly tunneling through cell wall, escaping from jail

Via Sheriff’s Office of City of Newport News

(NEWPORT NEWS, Va.) — Two Virginia inmates are back in custody after they allegedly escaped from jail by tunneling through a cell wall, authorities said.


The men, John Garza and Arley Nemo, allegedly made tools out of a toothbrush and a metal object to help them access untied rebars between the walls of the Newport News Jail Annex, according to the Newport News Sheriff’s Office.

Garza, 37, and Nemo, 43, then allegedly climbed the security wall on Monday afternoon and made their escape, the sheriff’s office said.

Authorities said they learned the men were missing during a routine head count on Monday evening.

The two men were arrested at an IHOP in Hampton, just outside of Newport News, early Tuesday morning, according to the sheriff’s office.

The sheriff’s office said they’re reviewing a “construction design weakness” at the jail.

“A Newport News facility management and engineering team comprised of [sheriff’s office] personnel and city facilities engineers are reviewing and formulating ways to mitigate the aforementioned facility weakness,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement. “Until all weaknesses are identified and secured, we will not discuss the situation further for security reasons.”

Nemo has been in custody since October on charges including credit card fraud, credit card larceny, forgery, possession of burglary tools, grand larceny, contempt of court and probation violation, according to the sheriff’s office. It was not clear if he has entered any pleas.

Garza has been in custody since December on charges including contempt of court, probation violations and failure to appear. He pleaded guilty to failure to appear and S/C CCD Violation.

ABC News’ Victoria Arancio contributed to this report.

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