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Inmate Daniel Lopez Zavala, who escaped from the San Benito County Jail on May 28, was arrested in San Jose May 29 night following a regional manhunt that lasted nearly two days, authorities said. 

The San Benito County Sheriff’s Office has also arrested three people who are accused of helping Zavala escape from the jail on Flynn Road. 

Daniel Lopez Zavala

In a press conference, Sheriff Eric Taylor said his office will be conducting a thorough investigation into how Zavala was able to escape the local jail, and will report the findings back to the public. 

“I want to reemphasize our commitment to take a hard look at our correctional facility and determine what facts and circumstances there were that led to this breakdown…where this male was able to escape our custody,” Taylor said at a May 30 press conference. 

Zavala had been in custody on unsentenced charges when he escaped the jail just before 2am May 28, according to the sheriff’s office. He escaped by jumping over an eight-foot fence topped with barbed wire, while he was doing janitorial work in the yard. 

Jail staff were present as they saw Zavala scale the fence, and immediately called emergency dispatch, according to the sheriff’s office. Law enforcement personnel and resources from multiple agencies—including K9 tracking dogs—arrived at the area but were unable to find Zavala during a search of the area surrounding the jail. 

Luz Mendoza

Authorities think someone in a vehicle picked Zavala up in the area of the 1800 block of Airway Drive before 3:30am May 28. 

Following an investigative lead, police tracked Zavala to a hotel in the San Jose area, Taylor said. Sheriff’s deputies, along with San Jose Police, contacted Zavala and his girlfriend, Luz Mendoza, 38, of Hollister, and arrested them about 7pm May 29. 

Taylor said Zavala attempted to run from officers at the hotel but he was quickly apprehended. 

Zavala was booked at the county jail with an additional charge of escape, Taylor said. Mendoza was booked on suspicion of aiding and abetting Zavala, and conspiracy to commit escape. 

Based on additional leads, authorities identified two additional suspects who allegedly helped Zavala escape, Taylor said. Katarina Folsom, 39, of Hollister, was arrested during a May 30 traffic stop in Hollister, on a warrant for conspiracy to commit escape. 

Jose Perez-Gutierrez

Also on May 30, the sheriff’s office said authorities had arrested a third suspect, Jose Perez-Gutierrez, 30, for helping Zavala escape. 

Taylor said at the May 30 press conference that Zavala’s escape attempt had been planned by himself and the other suspects, and investigators think more people were involved. 

“In the days leading up to this we know there was quite a scheme for him to escape,” Taylor said. 

Taylor noted that numerous law enforcement agencies in the region helped with the effort to find Zavala, including Hollister Police, San Jose Police, Monterey County Sheriff’s Office, California Highway Patrol and others. 

Zavala was an unsentenced inmate at the San Benito County Jail, where he was being housed on charges that include resisting a peace officer, possession of paraphernalia, possession of a controlled substance, felony gun charges, child cruelty and a parole violation, according to the sheriff’s office. 

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Michael Moore is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor for the Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Gilroy Dispatch since 2008. During that time, he has covered crime, breaking news, local government, education, entertainment and more.