Cops: Prison Teacher Gave 3 Inmates Maps, Helped Them Escape
An English teacher at a California jail has been arrested on suspicion of helping three inmates escape, authorities said.
Nooshafarin Ravaghi, a 44-year-old part-time teacher at the Rancho Santiago Community College's Inmate Education Program, was arrested on Thursday afternoon.
Hossein Nayeri, 37, Bac Duong, 43 and 20-year-old Jonathan Tieu escaped Central Men's Jail last Friday. Authorities say they sawed through a metal grate over a plumbing tunnel to reach the roof before rappelling down bed linens to the ground.
On Friday, authorities said Duong had turned himself in but the other two remain at large.
Ravaghi began working at the jail six months ago as a English as a second language teacher and Nayeri attended one of her classes, according to sheriff's spokesman Lt. Jeffrey Hallock.
There was "some type of relationship that developed between the two," he said.
Authorities believe she may have allowed the trio to access Google Maps, which could have let them see the roof of the jail, he told the Los Angeles Times.
Hallock added that authorities could not rule out that Ravaghi had provided the tools the men used to cut their way out, although Ravaghi has denied it, he said.
"We continue to get information from her," Hallock told the L.A. Times. "We have a certain amount of information she has provided thus far. But again she has denied bringing in any tools to this point. She did provide some tools for planning such as maps."
Sheriff Sandra Hutchens has said she believes Nayeri, who is accused of kidnapping, torture and robbery in a 2012 case, was the mastermind of the escape last week. He was due to go on trial for the charges next month. He has pleaded not guilty.
After his escape, the prosecutor in his case likened him to "The Silence of the Lambs" killer Hannibal Lecter.
“He’s diabolical,” Heather Brown told the Orange County Register. “My first reaction was: Oh, my God, they let Hannibal Lecter out. He is sophisticated, incredibly violent and cunning.”
A day after their escape, Duong allegedly stole a van after taking it for a test drive. Authorities said the fugitives could now be living out of the White 2008 GMC Savana Utility Vehicle.
Stolen Vehicle ACTUAL 2008 White GMC Savana Utility Lic: 8U66466 plates/stickers may have been removed pic.twitter.com/MASIlWnYxe— OC Sheriff, CA (@OCSD) January 29, 2016
On Friday, Duong reportedly turned himself in and is back in custody.
Nayeri's attorney, Salvatore Ciulla, has not responded to a request for comment.
Tieu is charged in a 2011 gang murder while Duong is charged with attempted murder following a November shooting. Both men pleaded not guilty in their cases.
All three men are now being charged with an additional felony count of escape, authorities said.