Story Summary

Downtown prison escapees both captured

On December 18, prisoners Joseph Banks and Kenneth Conley escaped through the window of their cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Chicago.

FBI agents and Chicago police arrested Banks two days after the escape. Conley was captured on January 4.

Both men are convicted bank robbers.

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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.

Police entered a home in Southwest suburban Tinley Park about 11:30 Tuesday morning, searching for two escaped prisoners.

Jose Banks and Ken Conley are believed to have escaped through the window of their cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in The Loop Tuesday morning.

They apparently used a rope to repel about 15 stories down the the south side of the building.

Authorities discovered them missing from their prison cell at the federal jail at about 8:45 a.m Tuesday.

The jail is located at 71 W. Van Buren.

The prisoners were last checked at 5 a.m.

A tan rope could be seen dangling on the outside of the MCC, but police would not say whether it was involved in the escape.

No one was found in the home in the 6600 block of 175th Street, where a relative of Conley’s is believed to live.

But FBI officials said they believe Conley and the other inmate, Joseph “Jose” Banks, were there hours earlier.

Banks, known as the Second-Hand Bandit, was convicted last week of two bank robberies and two attempted holdups.  He made off with a combined nearly $600,000 in the heists, authorities said.

Conley is accused of robbing nearly $4,000 from a Homewood bank last year.

Conley was arrested after showing up at a Chicago Heights strip club where he worked dressed in the same black suit and white tie the bank robber wore and flashing a wad of cash, authorities said.

Two prisoners have escaped from the Metropolitan Correctional Center in the Loop.

One prisoner is a bank robber just convicted last week, the other a bank robbery suspect facing trial.

Authorities discovered them missing from their prison cell at the federal jail at about 8:45 a.m Tuesday.

The jail is located at 71 W. Van Buren.

The prisoners were last checked at 5 a.m.

A tan rope could be seen dangling from about 15 stories up along the south side of the MCC, but police would not say whether it was involved in the escape.

One of the inmates is Joseph Banks, known as the Second-Hand Bandit who was convicted last week of two bank robberies and two attempted holdups, according to Lazzaro. He made off with a combined nearly $600,000 in the heists, authorities said.

The other suspect was identified as Ken Conley, accused of robbing nearly $4,000 from a Homewood bank last year.

Conley was arrested after showing up at a Chicago Heights strip club where he worked dressed in the same black suit and white tie the bank robber wore and flashing a wad of cash, authorities said.

Chicago Breaking News contributed to this report

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