Orange County Sheriff's officials said they've taken an ESL teacher into custody in connection with the escape of three violent convicts from the Central Men's Jail last week.
Sheriff spokesman Lt. Jeff Hallock said that 44-year-old Nooshafarin Ravaghi is one of "upwards of 10" suspects taken into custody in connection with the case. Several others were arrested on unrelated parole violations, he said.
Ravaghi, who has taught a class on English as a second language at the facility, is suspected of providing convict Hossein Nayeri with maps and other tools that helped him and two other inmates with their escape. Hallock said Ravaghi, who is employed by the Rancho Santiago Community College District, has denied she provided tools that might have helped them cut through iron bars.
Ravaghi, a resident of Lake Forest, is believed to have had "some type of relationship" with Nayeri, Hallock said. He added that she seemed to have developed from a teacher into a closer friendship with the escaped convict, but he said investigators are not sure of the specifics.
Hallock said they also had information that another of the escapees, Bac Duong, had stolen a white GMC van (license plate 8U66466) after posing as an interested buyer and taking it out on a test drive. He never returned, Hallock said. Hallock later tweeted that it was stolen on Saturday in Los Angeles.
Hallock added that investigators had information leading them to believe the three are still traveling together.
It’s been nearly a week since the three inmates cut through a steel grate in their fourth floor dorm cell at Santa Ana's Central Men’s Jail. They crawled through plumbing tunnels up to the roof and rappelled down to escape.
They’ve not been seen since.
Investigators have been focused on putting pressure on a local Vietnamese gang that’s active in the Garden Grove and Westminster areas, officials said Wednesday.
About five arrests were made Wednesday. Some people arrested know the inmates that escaped, said Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens. Others were picked up on probation or had warrants.
Many people at a Vietnamese New Year flower festival in Little Saigon were unaware of the jail escape or had vague details about the story.
“Not really, I’ve been busy. I had no idea,” said one flower shop booth manager at the festival.
A few had seen the pictures of the inmates circling social media.
“I thought it was kind of strange how they were able to escape,” said Danny Tran, 25. “It makes me feel a little uneasy.”
Correction: An earlier version of this post misspelled Nooshafarin Ravaghi's first name. The Orange County Sheriff's Department has since corrected the spelling.