CRIME
01/28/2016 07:50 pm ET Updated Jan 28, 2016

Escaped California Inmates Believed To Be Living Out Of Stolen Van

By Tori Richards

SANTA ANA, Calif., Jan 28 (Reuters) - Three inmates who escaped nearly a week ago from a maximum-security jail unit in Southern California are believed to be living out of a utility van they stole two days after their breakout, a sheriff's department spokesman said on Thursday.

Lieutenant Jeff Hallock of the Orange County Sheriff's Department also said a community college instructor who had befriended one of the fugitives was arrested on Thursday on suspicion of assisting in the escape by furnishing the inmates with Google Maps information.

Hallock said the teacher, Arvaghi Nooshafarian, 44, was an English-as-a-second-language teacher for the presumed mastermind of last Friday's jailhouse getaway, Hossein Nayeri, 37, who is accused of the mutilation torture of a kidnap victim in 2012.

Nooshafarian is one of about 10 people arrested in connection with the escape during the past two days, Hallock said.

Nayeri escaped from the Orange County Men's Central Jail in Santa Ana with two other inmates, both reputed to be connected with Vietnamese-American street gangs - Jonathan Tieu, 20, who is charged with murder, and Bac Duong, 43, charged with attempted murder.

Hallock said it was Duong who took what was supposed to be a test drive in a utility van advertised for sale in south Los Angeles on Sunday and then never came back.

All three fugitives are believed to have remained together since escaping from the jail and have been living out of the van as they continue to elude a massive manhunt, Hallock told a news conference.

The breakout marks the first jail escape in Orange County since the 1980s, sheriff's officials have said. (Reporting by Tori Richards in Santa Ana; Writing and additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Sandra Maler and Leslie Adler)

Orange County Sheriff's Department

Hallock said the teacher, Arvaghi Nooshafarian, 44, was an English-as-a-second-language teacher for the presumed mastermind of last Friday's jailhouse getaway, Hossein Nayeri, 37, who is accused of the mutilation torture of a kidnap victim in 2012.

Nooshafarian is one of about 10 people arrested in connection with the escape during the past two days, Hallock said.

Nayeri escaped from the Orange County Men's Central Jail in Santa Ana with two other inmates, both reputed to be connected with Vietnamese-American street gangs - Jonathan Tieu, 20, who is charged with murder, and Bac Duong, 43, charged with attempted murder.

Hallock said it was Duong who took what was supposed to be a test drive in a utility van advertised for sale in south Los Angeles on Sunday and then never came back.

All three fugitives are believed to have remained together since escaping from the jail and have been living out of the van as they continue to elude a massive manhunt, Hallock told a news conference.

The 2008 White GMC Savana was reported stolen on January 23, 2016, and its license plate and stickers may have been removed, said Carrie Braun, the Public Affairs Manager at the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

The breakout marks the first jail escape in Orange County since the 1980s, sheriff's officials have said. (Reporting by Tori Richards in Santa Ana; Writing and additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Sandra Maler and Leslie Adler)

Orange County Sheriff's Department

Anyone who sees this vehicle is asked to call 9-1-1 immediately. The suspect is considered armed and dangerous. Anyone with information as to the whereabouts of this vehicle or the escaped inmates, please call our Hotline at 714-628-7085 or Investigations at 714-647-7014. Anonymous tips may be submitted at OCSD.org.

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