Homeless man gets $100,000 for helping recapture inmates

A homeless man is $100,000 richer after he was rewarded for helping capture three inmates who escaped from the Orange County jail in January.

Matthew Hay-Chapman, a homeless grandfather in San Francisco, spotted the van that had been stolen by two of the escaped inmates near Golden Gate Park on Jan. 30.

He said he had read stories about the escape and recognized one of the men from his photo. He pointed them out to San Francisco police officers, who found the inmates and arrested them.

The Orange County Board of Supervisors had offered a $150,000 reward after the escape and earlier this week approved dividing it among four people, with Hay-Chapman receiving the largest share.

In a February interview after the inmates were arrested, Hay-Chapman said he planned to use the money to help his children and grandchildren out of an unspecified "dire straits situation in Oregon."

"I'll get some respect from those authorities in Oregon," he said. "I won't be just a broken-down, depressed grandpa on social security."

Supervisor Todd Spitzer presented the check to Hay-Chapman on Thursday in Northern California.

"Matthew Hay-Chapman described to me that he felt it was his 'duty' to report the escapees," Spitzer said. "His brave actions were a reflection of his character and I hope the reward will help him out."

The three inmates, Hossein Nayeri, 37, Jonathan Tieu, 20, and Bac Duong, 43, escaped from the Central Men's Jail on Jan. 22, crawling through tunnels and piping and then using a rope made of bedsheets to rappel four stories to the ground.

They kidnapped a taxi driver at gunpoint and forced him to drive them around for a week. They also stole a white GMC utility van and drove to a motel in San Jose.

Duong later took the taxi driver back to Santa Ana and surrendered before the other two were spotted by Hay-Chapman in San Francisco.

The remaining portion of the Board of Supervisors reward was divided among Armando Damian ($20,000), Hazel Javier ($15,000), and Jeffrey Aranda ($15,000) for information they provided to authorities that helped lead to the recapture of the inmates.
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