ESL teacher at OC jail arrested on suspicion of providing key materials to 3 escaped inmates

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Nooshafarin Ravaghi, who police said helped three inmates escape from an Orange County jail, authored children's books and holds two master's degrees, according to her website.

Authorities arrested a woman believed to have provided key materials to three inmates who escaped the Orange County Central Men's Jail.

The Orange County Sheriff's Department announced the arrest Thursday and said "upwards" of 10 arrests had been made in connection to the escape,which includes five arrests made on Wednesday.

Several other arrests would also be made Thursday involving parole and probation violations, authorities said.

OCSD Lt. Jeff Hallock said around 3 p.m., an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher who had worked for the jail since July 2015 had been taken into custody.

Nooshafarin Ravaghi, 44, of Lake Forest, is suspected of directly contributing to the escape of the inmates and providing planning tools, such as Google Maps of the facility, which helped the trio.

Ravaghi is currently employed by the Rancho Santiago Community College District as an ESL teacher, Hallock said.

According to her website, Ravaghi has authored a multicultural children's book called the "Noosh Collection." She also holds two master's degrees, one in French literature and the other in education.

A neighbor, who only went by the name "James," told Eyewitness News that Ravaghi had told him she was from Tehran, Iran. He said she lived in a Mission Viejo condominium for 10 years before moving to Lake Forest a year ago.

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A neighbor of a woman suspected of helping three Orange County jail inmates escape spoke exclusively with Eyewitness News Thursday.

"James" added that he could not understand how Ravaghi could get herself entangled in such a crime and he was not aware she worked at the jail.

Yama Raawe, one of Ravaghi's ESL students, said she couldn't believe the news either.

"She is very charming, very nice. I'm very surprised," Raawe said.

An updated photo of Hossein Nayeri, one of the three inmates, was also released by the sheriff's department Thursday morning.

Nayeri, along with Jonathan Tieu, 20, and Bac Duong, 43, escaped the prison last Friday using an elaborate plan that involved cutting through steel bars and plumbing tunnels, and rappelling down the jail's roof.

Hossein Nayeri, 37 (L), Jonathan Tieu, 20 (C), and Bac Duong, 43 (R), are shown in undated mugshots provided by the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

Hallock said Nayeri attended several of Ravaghi's classes and authorities are investigating the extent of their relationship.

"All we know is that there was some type of relationship that developed between the two as a result of initially (what) was a student-teacher relationship and it developed into a close relationship where she then began providing him information," Hallock said.

Ravaghi had not been booked into Orange County Jail as of 5 p.m. and the charges she faces were not released. Hallock said she was providing investigators with information, but denied bringing in professional tools.

During a Wednesday press conference, Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens said investigators were looking into the possibility that the inmates received help from someone on the outside as well as from anyone inside the facility. She added the tools used to cut through steel bars were professional and not made in jail.

The trio were last accounted for at 5 a.m. on Jan. 22, and their disappearance went unnoticed until 16 hours later when an evening count was conducted.

Hutchens said she and other investigators believe that Nayeri, 37, is the mastermind behind the escape plan because of his military background. He had been in custody since September 2014 and faced charges for kidnapping and torture, among other charges.

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Eyewitness News got an exclusive look at the planned escape route taken by three inmates who broke out from the Orange County Central Men's Jail.

Tieu and Duong, both known gang members, had been in custody since October 2013 and December 2015, respectively. Tieu faced such charges as murder and attempted murder, while Duong faced charges for attempted murder, among others.

Authorities said Duong was last spotted on Saturday in the south end of Los Angeles and stole a 2008 white GMC Savana utility car that was for sale.

A private owner advertised the vehicle and Duong had responded to it, authorities said. He test drove the van, came back and at some point took off with it, Hallock said.

The license plate on the van is 8U66466, but Hallock said the plates may have been removed and replaced with yellow or green Felix Chevrolet paper plates. Authorities believe the three suspects are still together and may be living in the van.

Anyone with information on the inmates' whereabouts was urged to call the OCSD hotline at (714) 628-7085. Those wishing to remain anonymous may call OC Crime Stoppers at (855) 847-6227.
Related Topics:
newsteacher arrestedjailescaped prisonerinmatesmurderattempted murderkidnappingkidnapSanta AnaOrange County
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