A search continued Saturday for three men who escaped from the Orange County Central Men’s Jail by apparently cutting through steel bars and rappelling down the side of the multistory facility, authorities said.
Hossein Nayeri, 37, Jonathan Tieu, 20, and Bac Duong, 43, were all discovered unaccounted for about 9 p.m. Friday, Lt. Jeff Hallock of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department said at a Saturday morning news conference.
A search was immediately conducted at the Central Jail complex, located at 550 N. Flower St. in Santa Ana, and the adjacent Civic Center, but the inmates were not located, sheriff’s officials said in a special bulletin.
Information gathered by investigators revealed that the inmates were last seen about 5 a.m. Friday. The disappearance was confirmed about midnight, according to Hallock.
“This was clearly a well thought out and planned escape” that may have been in the works for weeks or months, the lieutenant told reporters Saturday afternoon. Evidence indicated that the escapees had cut through 1/2-inch steel bars and made their way through plumbing tunnels before gaining access to an unsecured area of the jail’s roof, he said.
Once there, they seemed to have pushed aside barbed wire, used a “makeshift rope” — possibly fashioned from sheets or clothing — to rappel to the ground, then fled the area on foot, Hallock said. It was unclear if they received any assistance from anyone outside the complex, he added.
The episode marked the third escape in the history of the maximum-security facility, which was built in the 1960s, according to the Sheriff’s Department.
The inmates had faced various charges: Tieu was held on suspicion of murder, Duong on an attempted murder charge, and Nayeri on charges of kidnapping and torture, the bulletin stated.
Nayeri and Duong were ineligible for bail, while Tieu’s had been set at $1 million, Hallock said.
The FBI has announced a reward of up to $20,000 for information leading to the prisoners’ capture.
Anyone with information about the case was urged to call the Sheriff’s Department at 714-647-7000.
Anonymous tips may also be submitted to O.C. Crime Stoppers at 855-847-6227 or via the website occrimestoppers.org.