2 Virginia inmates tunneled out of jail with a toothbrush and traveled 7 miles to go to IHOP, cops said

Newport News Jail 
A hole made in the wall through the Newport News Jail Annex, where two inmates made their escape using a toothbrush and untied rebar on March 20, 2023.Newport News Sheriff’s Office.
  • Two men made a daring escape from a Virginia prison using a toothbrush and untied rebar.

  • After they snuck out, they walked close to 7 miles to an IHOP one town over.

  • Bystanders spotted them at the IHOP and called police, who detained the inmates.

Two Virginia inmates who broke out of their jail cell with a toothbrush tasted sweet freedom for a day at an IHOP miles away before they were caught.

According to the Newport News Sheriff's Office, two inmates were missing during a headcount on Thursday. The pair, John M. Garza and Arley V. Nemo, had used "primitive tools," including a toothbrush and untied rebar, to dig a hole out of their cell wall, and scaled a wall to make a daring escape, the department said.

"The two men began to exploit a construction design weakness utilizing primitive-made tools constructed from a toothbrush and metal object," NNSO said in a press release. "Those tools facilitated their access to untied rebars between the walls. Once gaining access to the rebar, they used it to further make their escape."

The two then made it to an IHOP seven miles away in the neighboring town of Hampton, Virginia, opting for the pancake house instead of a Waffle House a few blocks away.

NNSO did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment. In a press release, NNSO said that private citizens notified law enforcement when they saw the men at the IHOP.

"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,'" Sheriff Gabe Morgan said in the release.

The sheriff's office added that it was looking at other security and construction flaws in the jail and that charges related to the escape were pending.

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