Kearny Mesa halfway house escapees recaptured in LA

SAN DIEGO — Two female inmates who walked away from a Kearny Mesa halfway house were back in state prison Tuesday after being recaptured in Los Angeles during their fourth day on the lam.

Karen Flores, 26, and Gisselle Rivas, 20, were serving time at the Custody to Community Reentry Program in the 3000 block of Armstrong Street in San Diego when they removed their ankle bracelets last Thursday and walked away from the facility, according to California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokeswoman Krissi Khokhobashvili.

Authorities re-captured the women, both of whom were sentenced for crimes in Los Angeles County, about 4 p.m. Sunday in Southwest Los Angeles.

“They were taken into custody without incident and transported to California Institution for Women in Corona,” Khokhobashvili said. “Their cases will be referred to the District Attorney’s Office for prosecution.”

Flores and Rivas shared a room at the Kearny Mesa facility and were reported missing around noon after managing to remove their ankle-worn electronic tracking devices, Khokhobashvili said. One ankle monitor was discovered on the grounds, and corrections officials notified local law enforcement to help search for the escapees.

Corrections officers from the Special Service Unit San Diego and the San Diego Fugitive Apprehension Team led the search, with “investigative leads” helping them track the women about 120 miles north to Los Angeles, where they were found standing outside on Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard and Western Avenue.

Flores was sentenced in Los Angeles County in August 2016 to service two years and eight months for second-degree robbery and grand theft. She had been at the transitional facility since May and was scheduled to be released next September.

Rivas was sentenced in January of this year, also in the Los Angeles area, to a four-year term for first-degree burglary and vehicle theft. She had been at the halfway house near the Kearny Mesa Recreation Center since June and was slated to be released next April.

The transitional reentry program allows eligible inmates to serve the latter part of their sentences in a community-based setting in lieu of state prison and provides a range of rehabilitative services that assist with substance-abuse recovery, employment, education, housing, family reunification and social support.