3 escaped inmates kidnapped taxi driver, whose fate prompted fight between 2

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Inmates in California Planned Jailbreak for Months

(KTLA) Three Orange County inmates who escaped from jail in Santa Ana kidnapped a taxi driver at gunpoint, forcing him to stay with them for a week and eventually travel with them to San Jose, authorities said Monday.

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Two of the inmates -- 43-year-old Bac Duong and Hossein Nayeri, 37 -- got into a physical fight over whether the taxi driver should be killed and his body buried, Orange County Sheriff's Department Capt. Jeff Hallock said at a news conference.

Photos from the case:

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Inmates rappelled from roof to escape California jail, manhunt
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3 escaped inmates kidnapped taxi driver, whose fate prompted fight between 2
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)
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While Nayeri and the third inmate, 20-year-old Jonathan Tieu, were away from the San Jose motel room where the group holed up, Duong left with the taxi driver. The latter two drove back to Southern California, and Duong turned himself in the next day.

The taxi driver not injured and was helping investigators, Hallock said.

"At this point, we're viewing him as a victim of a kidnapping," the captain said.

The activities of the fugitives following their Jan. 22 escape from Module F of the Men's Central Jail in Santa Ana were described at an 11 a.m. news conference.

Hallock laid out a timeline that began with the three inmates' being placed in jail custody. The escape plan had been developed over six months, beginning in July 2015, when Nayeri and Tieu were in jail, Hallock said. Duong did not arrive at the Men's Central Jail till Dec. 5, 2015.

They escaped at 5 a.m., 15 minutes after an inmate count at the jail. They were quickly picked up by an accomplice and driven to a house in Westminster.

Then they traveled between several different homes in Westminster, Santa Ana and Huntington Beach before taking a taxi that night to a Target store in Rosemead, where they bought clothes.

About 11:30 p.m., "Duong puts a gun to the taxi driver's ribcage and tells him he's coming with them," Hallock said.

It's not clear where the four men stayed that night, but the next day, Duong stole a van listed on Craigslist in Los Angeles, and the inmates had their hairstyles changed at an El Monte hair salon, Hallock said.

For the three following nights, while the Sheriff's Department asked for help finding the escapees, they and the taxi driver stayed at the Flamingo Inn in Rosemead.

On Tuesday, Jan. 26, after mailing a letter from Garden Grove to Tieu's mother -- as a distraction ruse -- the men and the taxi driver drove to San Jose, taking both the van and the taxi, Hallock said.

The next day, while the group stayed at the Alameda Motel in San Jose, Nayeri and Duong had a physical fight over the taxi driver's fate. Then, on Thursday, Jan. 28, Nayeri and Tieu took the van to get its windows tinted.

While they were gone, Duong and the taxi driver took the taxi back to Rosemead, where the two men spent the night.

The next day, the driver took Duong to Santa Ana, where the escapee surrendered. The driver later contacted the Sheriff's Department.

Duong approached a family member's automotive business and said he wanted to turn himself in. Police were called and he was taken into custody without incident.

Then, on Saturday morning, San Francisco police arrested Nayeri and Tieu. At a Whole Foods Market parking lot, a man recognized the white van investigators had described and alerted nearby officers.

As police approached, Nayeri ran on foot but was quickly captured. Tieu was found hiding inside the van.

No weapon has been recovered, and so far it does not appear that the men had more than one firearm, Hallock said, noting that many questions about the escape remain.

Hallock said no evidence points to the inmates' having any help from sheriff's staff, and an internal administrative investigation into the escape was ongoing.

"It's something we're not proud of. We're embarrassed," Hallock said. "We feel like we let the public down."

The three men were being held in isolation cells and will require handcuffs, leg chains and a two-deputy escort any time they're moved around jail, Hallock said.

"They've been less than cooperative," the captain said.

One of the roughly 10 people who were detained during the manhunt -- Loc Ba Nguyen -- has been charged with multiple crimes, including smuggling weapons into correction facility and aiding in a prisoner's escape, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said.

Hallock could not say how Nguyen smuggled items to prisoners, saying that was under investigation. Nguyen was linked to Duong, Hallock said.

Nguyen was believed to have picked the men up, according to Hallock.

The man who spotted the van in San Francisco will be eligible for a reward, which had grown to $200,000, Hallock said.

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