Prisoners escape using bed sheets; Manhunt ensues

The manhunt for two escaped prisoners continues for a second day.  Convicted bank robbers, Kenneth Conley and Joseph “Jose” Banks, are now charged with escaping from the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Chicago.

The FBI says they have received plenty of tips in the case, but essentialy their trail has gone cold.

Conley and Banks were cellmates. Federal authorities say the two were accounted for during a head count at 10 pm Monday. By 7am Tuesday, employees arriving for work spotted a makeshift rope dangling out of a window on the south side of the building. Another head count confirmed that Banks and Conley had pulled off a brazen escape.

Sources tell WGN-TV, the window was no more than 4-inches wide and the inmates knocked out cinder blocks to create a hole large enough to squeeze through. They climbed down the side of the building from the 15th floor on bed sheets that had been tied together.

The escape sparked an intense manhunt. Investigators descended on a home in south suburban Tinley Park, where it is believed a relative of Conley lives.  Conley and Banks were already gone by the time a SWAT team arrived.

Some nearby schools went into soft lockdowns as the search continued.

Sources tell us security has also been beefed up for Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer. She presided over Banks’ trial, which ended with a guilty verdict just last week. Dubbed the ‘Second Hand Bandit,’ federal authorities say he was one of Chicago’s most prolific bank robbers.  He acted as his own attorney, and at one point had to be restrained in the courtroom.

This isn’t the first time inmates escaped from the federal detention facility. In 1985, two men punched a hole in a 6th floor wall and shimmied down an electrical cord.  Both were later captured.

Conley and Banks should be considered armed and dangerous. Investigators say Banks made off with nearly $600,000 dollars in cash from two robberies. Less than $60,000 of that was recovered by the FBI.

Anyone with information should contact the Chicago FBI office at 312-421-6700.

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