Inmates Allegedly Escape Virginia Prison With Toothbrush, Police Recapture Them At IHOP

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Two male inmates are back in custody after allegedly escaping their jail cell using a toothbrush, only to be re-captured at a local IHOP the following morning, police say.

During a routine headcount at about 7:15 p.m. March 20, security guards at the Newport News Jail Annex realized John M. Garza, 37, and Arley V. Nemo, 43, were missing from their cell, according to a news release from the Newport News Sheriff’s Office. A preliminary investigation found the men “began to exploit a construction design weakness” within the wall of the building using “primitive-made tools constructed from a toothbrush and metal object.”

Garza and Nemo were able to gain access to untied rebar between the jail walls, which they then utilized to further assist their escape, according to the press release. Once free, the two men scaled the wall surrounding the facility and left the immediate area. Law enforcement officials arrested the two men at an IHOP restaurant in Hampton hours later.

“I extend my gratitude to the Newport News Police Department, the Hampton Police Department, and the James City County Police Department for their assistance in our attempt to recapture these inmates,” Newport News Sheriff Gabe Morgan said in the press release. (RELATED: Three Inmates Caught After Escaping Prison By Allegedly Cutting Holes In Ceiling)

“Moreover, I’m thankful for the citizens who observed Garza and Nemo at the IHOP and notified law enforcement.  It reinforces what we always say “see something, say something,” Morgan added.

An engineering team comprised of personnel from the Newport News Sheriff’s Office and the city are working together to correct the alleged facility weaknesses that enabled Garza and Nemo to escape, officials said in the release. An investigation into the incident is underway and charges related to the escape are pending.