After months of careful planning, two inmates from a Virginia jail managed to escape their confinement, only to have their freedom cut short when they were discovered at a local IHOP indulging in pancakes. The inmates, Arley V. Nemo, 43, and John M. Garza, 37, had used makeshift tools crafted from toothbrushes and metal objects to carve a hole in their cells and make their way to freedom. Unfortunately for them, their taste for pancakes led to their quick recapture.
The two fugitives were reported missing from the Newport News Jail Annex after they went uncounted during the Monday evening 7 pm headcount. However, just nine hours later, at 4:20 am on Tuesday, the pair were found at a nearby IHOP, enjoying a large stack of pancakes and syrup that they couldn’t resist.
According to the Newport News Sheriff’s Office, the inmates managed to exploit a “design weakness” in the jail’s architecture to make their escape. Utilizing their handcrafted “primitive-made tools,” they were able to chip away at their jail cells and eventually breach the prison perimeter by scaling a wall.
After successfully breaking out of the jail, Nemo and Garza made their way to the nearest International House of Pancakes, about six and a half miles away. Their newfound freedom, however, was short-lived; just nine hours after their escape, they were apprehended and returned to custody, where they were placed back in a cell.
Though the specific location of their escape within the jail is unclear, a photo from the Newport News Sheriff’s Department shows a hole in the exterior wall of the facility, indicating that the inmates managed to break through at least two layers using their improvised tools. Their determination to escape was fueled by their desire for pancakes at IHOP.
The two men now face additional charges related to their escape and other offenses. They were not granted bail upon being taken back into custody following their brief taste of freedom.
While this particular prison break may seem comical, it serves as a sobering reminder of the potential vulnerabilities of correctional facilities. Inmates with access to the right tools and the will to escape can pose a significant security risk. This incident underscores the critical need for proper security measures within prisons and jails to prevent such escapes. In this case, it was the lure of pancakes that led to the inmates’ swift recapture, but the outcome could have been far direr had they remained at large for a longer period.