The search continues for three fugitive inmates who, with the help of a jail English teacher, escaped a Santa Ana detention facility last week, sheriff’s officials said.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department reported no significant developments overnight, despite media reports of two SWAT raids conducted Thursday night in Westminster and Garden Grove. Sheriff’s spokesman Lt. Jeffrey Hallock would not confirm the raids occurred, but said he planned to talk about overnight activity at a news conference at 10 a.m.
Hallock also planned to provide more details surrounding Nooshafarin Ravaghi, the 44-year-old Lake Forest woman arrested under suspicion of contributing to the men’s Jan. 22 escape and providing them with planning tools. Fugitives Hossein Nayeri, Jonathan Tieu and Bac Duong are believed to be living out of a stolen white 2008 GMC Savana utility van and remain at large.
Details on Ravaghi’s arrest and her employment at the jail and the Rancho Santiago Community College will be released to the public, Hallock said.
Ravaghi was a part-time English as a second language teacher who was working as a contract employee at the jail for the past six months. Nayeri had been attending one of her classes, and eventually a relationship flourished between the two, Hallock said.
Ravaghi also was a book editor and wrote a series of “multicultural books” for children called the Noosha Collection.
Authorities believe Ravaghi provided the men with planning and possibly tools, which they used to escape from the Men’s Central Jail’s plumbing system and eventually reach the building’s rooftop.
Ravaghi told investigators she gave the fugitives maps only. Hallock said she may have allowed the men to look at Google Maps so they could look at the jail’s roof.
Authorities think the inmates cut through four layers of steel, metal and rebar sometime after 5 a.m. Jan. 22 as they slipped through an extensive network of pipes and an air duct. After reaching the roof, a floor above their dormitory, the men used a makeshift rope of bedsheets and cloth to rappel down the building.
Investigators think the men are still hiding in Southern California and have not split up since the jailbreak.
Ten other people, including members of Tieu’s gang, have been arrested as part of the escape investigation. Tieu is one of several members of a South Asian gang operating in Orange County and Long Beach and charged in a 2011 murder. He was expected to be retried for the slaying next month, prosecutors said.
Nayeri faces charges in a 2012 torture plot, alleging he and his accomplices kidnapped a man, beat him, burned him with a blowtorch and severed his penis in an attempt to extort $1 million.
Duong was arrested and charged with attempted murder in late 2015, prosecutors said.
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