Authorities seek 3 inmates and answers about their escape

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
Manhunt Continues for Three Escaped Inmates

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Authorities hunting three dangerous escapees from a maximum-security jail in Southern California called on the public's help to find them Sunday, offering $50,000 in rewards and saying they still don't have all the details of the elaborate escape plan.

"We're exhausting every lead that we currently have," Orange County sheriff's Lt. Jeff Hallock said at an afternoon news conference.

The three men, including an alleged killer, cut and climbed their way out of the Orange County Men's Central Jail in Santa Ana, about 40 miles southeast of Los Angeles, sometime after the 5 a.m. Friday head count, authorities said. They weren't discovered missing for some 16 hours.

The men managed to get hold of some tools and cut through a quarter-inch-thick metal screen in a wall between some bunks in a dormitory they shared with more than 60 men, then used plumbing tunnels, cutting through additional half-inch steel bars, before making it to an unguarded area of the roof of the four-story building, removing some razor wire and rappelling down using ropes braided from linens, authorities said.

19 PHOTOS
Inmates rappelled from roof to escape California jail, manhunt
See Gallery
Authorities seek 3 inmates and answers about their escape
Orange County Sheriff's Department Public Information Officer Lt. Jeff Hallock, right, says escaped inmate Bac Duong, marked "Captured," middle, surrendered in Orange County earlier Friday, Jan. 29, 2016, during a news conference in Santa Ana, Calif. Duong told investigators he was with the other two fugitives in San Jose, Calif., on Thursday. Hallock says the other two men, Jonathan Tieu and Hossein Nayeri, may now be headed to Fresno in Central California, where there may be associates who can help them. Authorities had previously said they thought all three men were still in Southern California. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
This undated photo provided by the Orange County Sheriff's Department shows Nooshafarin Ravaghi. Ravaghi, 44, who taught English classes at Central Men's Jail in Santa Ana, Calif., was was arrested Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, on suspicion of helping three inmates escape the lockup. She was arrested nearly a week after the men â one an alleged killer â cut their way out of the jail and rappelled down an outside wall last Friday. (Orange County Sheriff's Department via AP)
This undated photo provided by the Orange County Sheriff's Department shows Hossein Nayeri. Sheriff Sandra Hutchens earlier this week cited Nayeri's troubled and conniving past when she labeled him as "most probably the mastermind" of a stunning jail break that blindsided authorities and has put three inmates on the loose. Nayeri racked up a stunning list of criminal exploits in the decade leading up to his breakout, including a high-speed police chase, a sordid torture case and a flight overseas to avoid capture. (Orange County Sheriff's Department via AP)
Orange County Sheriff agents search for additional suspects as they search the back of a hotel in Santa Ana, Calif., on Friday, Jan. 29, 2016. Authorities say they have captured one of three inmates who escaped from a California jail last week while facing charges involving violent crimes. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Orange County Sheriff deputies take cover as law enforcement agents search for fugitive inmates in Santa Ana, Calif., on Friday, Jan. 29, 2016. Authorities say they have captured one of three inmates who escaped from a California jail last week while facing charges involving violent crimes. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
This image provided by the Orange County, Calif., Sheriff's Department on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, shows three jail inmates charged with violent crimes who escaped from the Central Men's Jail in Santa Ana, Calif. The men from left are, 37-year-old Hossein Nayeri, charged with kidnapping and torture; 20-year-old Jonathan Tieu, who is charged with murder, and 43-year-old Bac Duong, charged with attempted murder. Sheriff's Lt. Jeff Hallock said Saturday that the inmates were last seen at 5 a.m. on Friday and could have escaped anytime between then and late Friday night. (Orange County Sheriff's Department via AP)
This undated combo photo provided by the Orange County Sheriff's Office shows tattoos and other markings on the body Bac Duong, one of three inmates who escaped Friday, Jan. 22, 2016, from the county's Central Men's Jail in Santa Ana, Calif. Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens said Wednesday that several arrests have been made in the investigation, but the inmates themselves have not been captured. (Orange County Sheriff's Office via AP)
Orange County Sheriff's Department Public Information Officer Lt. Jeff Hallock, left, takes questions from the media in Santa Ana, Calif., on Monday, Jan. 25, 2016. Three inmates from Orange County Men's Central Jail, including a man suspected in a killing, cut through metal, crawled through plumbing tunnels, climbed a roof and rappelled down four stories to freedom using ropes made from bedsheets. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Authorities with the Orange County Central Jail stand on the top jail floor in Santa Ana, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. Three inmates, including a man suspected of a killing, cut through metal, crawled through plumbing tunnels, climbed a roof and rappelled down four stories to freedom last week using ropes made from bedsheets. The sheriff's department has been slow to add more rooftop security cameras at the jail despite a grand jury's recommendations for eight years straight, according to a report Monday. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Orange County sheriff's deputies investigate early Saturday morning, Jan. 23, 2016, after three jail inmates charged with violent crimes escaped from Central Men's Jail in Santa Ana, Calif. The men include 20-year-old Jonathan Tieu, who is charged with murder; 37-year-old Hossein Nayeri, charged with kidnapping and torture; and 43-year-old Bac Duong, charged with attempted murder. Sheriff's Lt. Jeff Hallock said Saturday that the inmates were last seen at 5 a.m. Friday morning and could have escaped anytime between then and late Friday night. (AP Photo/Kevin Warn)
This Jan. 23, 2016 photo provided by the Orange County Sheriff's Office shows the exterior of Central Men's Jail in Santa Ana, Calif., from which three inmates escaped sometime Friday, Jan. 22. Investigators are pursuing several leads in their search, and in the meantime a separate probe was launched into how the inmates managed to obtain the tools to cut through the steel bars and plumbing tunnels to make it to the roof. (Orange County Sheriff's Office via AP)
This Jan. 23, 2016 photo provided by the Orange County Sheriff's Office shows a closeup view of a vent screen that had been cut and removed inside a cell at Central Men's Jail in Santa Ana, Calif., from which three inmates escaped sometime Friday, Jan. 22. Investigators are pursuing several leads in their search, and in the meantime a separate probe was launched into how the inmates managed to obtain the tools to cut through the steel bars and plumbing tunnels to make it to the roof. (Orange County Sheriff's Office via AP)
This Jan. 23, 2016 photo provided by the Orange County Sheriff's Office shows a cell and a vent screen that had been cut, near the floor at center rear, at Central Men's Jail in Santa Ana, Calif., from which three inmates escaped sometime Friday, Jan. 22. Investigators are pursuing several leads in their search, and in the meantime a separate probe was launched into how the inmates managed to obtain the tools to cut through the steel bars and plumbing tunnels to make it to the roof. (Orange County Sheriff's Office via AP)
This undated booking photo provided by the Orange County, Calif., Sheriff's Department on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, shows 20-year-old Jonathan Tieu, one of three jail inmates charged with violent crimes, who escaped from the Central Men's Jail in Santa Ana, Calif. The men include Tieu, who is charged with murder; 37-year-old Hossein Nayeri, charged with kidnapping and torture; and 43-year-old Bac Duong, charged with attempted murder. Sheriff's Lt. Jeff Hallock said Saturday that the inmates were last seen at 5 a.m. and could have escaped anytime between then and late Friday night. (Orange County Sheriff's Department via AP)
This undated booking photo provided by the Orange County, Calif., Sheriff's Department on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, shows 37-year-old Hossein Nayeri, one of three jail inmates charged with violent crimes, who escaped from the Central Men's Jail in Santa Ana, Calif. The men include 20-year-old Jonathan Tieu, who is charged with murder; Nayeri, charged with kidnapping and torture; and 43-year-old Bac Duong, charged with attempted murder. Sheriff's Lt. Jeff Hallock said Saturday that the inmates were last seen at 5 a.m. and could have escaped anytime between then and late Friday night. (Orange County Sheriff's Department via AP)
This undated booking photo provided by the Orange County, Calif., Sheriff's Department on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, shows 43-year-old Bac Duong, one of three jail inmates charged with violent crimes, who escaped from the Central Men's Jail in Santa Ana, Calif. The men include 20-year-old Jonathan Tieu, who is charged with murder; 37-year-old Hossein Nayeri, charged with kidnapping and torture; and Duong, charged with attempted murder. Sheriff's Lt. Jeff Hallock said Saturday that the inmates were last seen at 5 a.m. and could have escaped anytime between then and late Friday night. (Orange County Sheriff's Department via AP)
This Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, photo provided by the Orange County Sheriff's Office shows a cord made of an undetermined fabric that facilitated the escape of three inmates from Central Men's Jail in Santa Ana, Calif., sometime Friday. Investigators are pursuing several leads in their search for the inmates, and in the meantime a separate probe was launched into how the inmates managed to obtain the tools to cut through the steel bars and plumbing tunnels to make it to the roof. (Orange County Sheriff's Office via AP)
Orange County sheriff's deputies and a search dog investigate early Saturday morning, Jan. 23, 2016, after three jail inmates charged with violent crimes escaped from Central Men's Jail in Santa Ana, Calif. The men include 20-year-old Jonathan Tieu, who is charged with murder; 37-year-old Hossein Nayeri, charged with kidnapping and torture; and 43-year-old Bac Duong, charged with attempted murder. Sheriff's Lt. Jeff Hallock said Saturday that the inmates were last seen at 5 a.m. Friday morning and could have escaped anytime between then and late Friday night. (AP Photo/Kevin Warn)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

Photos and surveillance video released by the Sheriff's Department showed the cut dormitory screen, one of the ropes, and vague video of a flickering light on the roof that's believed to be from at least one inmate preparing to rappel down the building, Hallock said.

A fight involving other inmates may have been staged to delay the usual 8 p.m. head count and the escape wasn't noticed until 9 p.m., authorities said.

The inmates include 20-year-old Jonathan Tieu, who had been held on a $1 million bond since October 2013 on charges of murder, attempted murder and shooting at an inhabited dwelling. His case is believed to be gang-related.

On Sunday, his mother and sister said they hadn't heard from him and tearfully pleaded for him to surrender.

"I miss you... I want my son back," his mother, Lu Ann Nguyen of Santa Ana, told KABC-TV.

"I for sure know he wasn't the one who orchestrated this. I feel he was manipulated or tricked into doing this," said his sister, Tiffany Tieu.

"Just turn in yourself in. Don't let (it) drag on," she said.

While catching the men was the priority, a separate probe was underway to determine how they got out and whether any other prisoners or jail employees were involved, Hallock said.

"What I can assure you is that the compromises in security have been shored up," he said.

Earlier in the day, Sheriff Sandra Hutchens said it wasn't possible to conduct earlier head counts during the day.

"We are handicapped in that this is a jail where a lot of movement occurs," she said. "We have people going to court, we have people going for medical treatment, and you can't leave them locked down 24 hours a day. There are requirements that they get out and exercise from time to time."

Prosecutors and others involved in their cases have been notified of the escape and measures taken to protect them, authorities said.

It was the first escape in more than 20 years from the facility, which was built in 1968 and has about 900 inmates. Two other escapes took place decades ago.

"I've been in law enforcement for 37 years, always working for sheriff's departments that manage jails. And escapes do occur from time to time," Hutchens said. "We try and limit that. We learn from the mistakes. I can tell you that this is a very sophisticated-looking operation. People in jail have a lot of time to sit around and think about ways to defeat our systems."

She said people should consider the men armed and dangerous and people shouldn't try to approach them.

The U.S. Marshals Service offered a $30,000 reward on top of $20,000 offered by the FBI for information leading to the trio's capture.

Another escaped inmate is Hossein Nayeri, 37. He had been held without bond since September 2014 on charges of kidnapping, torture, aggravated mayhem and burglary. Nayeri and three other men are accused of kidnapping a California marijuana dispensary owner in 2012. They drove the dispensary owner to a desert spot where they believed he had hidden money and then cut off his penis, authorities said.

After the crime, Nayeri fled the U.S. to his native Iran, where he remained for several months. He was arrested in Prague in November 2014 while changing flights from Iran to Spain to visit family.

The third escaped inmate, 43-year-old Bac Duong, was being held without bond since last month on charges of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, shooting at an inhabited dwelling, being an ex-felon in possession of a firearm and other charges.

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners