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Convicts hopped cab after high-rise escape

DON BABWIN
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Conley

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Associated Press

Two convicted bank robbers used a knotted rope of bedsheets to escape Tuesday from the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago.

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Banks

CHICAGO – Two convicted bank robbers who pulled off a daring overnight escape from a high-rise Chicago jail had changed from their prison garb by the time they hopped into a cab near the lock-up, investigators said Wednesday as they expanded their manhunt for the men.

Authorities were raiding houses and combing through records looking for anybody with ties to the inmates who climbed out a jail window and descended 20 stories using a makeshift rope.

The FBI said surveillance footage from a camera near the Metropolitan Correctional Center shows Kenneth Conley and Joseph Banks getting into a cab at 2:45 a.m. Tuesday – about two hours before guards were supposed to do a bed check and four hours before workers spotted the rope dangling from the federal jail. The pair had changed from their orange jail-issued jumpsuits into light-colored pants and shirts, the FBI said.

“We don’t know if they fashioned their own clothes, or what,” Special Agent Frank Bochte said.

The FBI was offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the apprehension of Conley and Banks, with the manhunt focused mainly on Chicago and its suburbs.

Law enforcement officials said at least three homes in the suburbs south of Chicago where one of the inmates once lived were searched Tuesday, and a suburban strip club where Conley once worked confirmed that investigators had visited.

Investigators believe the men had been at a home in Tinley Park, 25 miles southwest of Chicago, just hours before police SWAT teams stormed it.

A law enforcement official said the home was that of Conley’s mother and that after the woman refused to let the escapees in, the men used a rock to break a window.

In Orland Park, which borders Tinley Park, police Chief Timothy McCarthy said records revealed Conley had been arrested several years ago on a robbery charge.

Orland Park officers helped search a house where the associate lives or once lived, he said, but there was no evidence the escaped inmates had been there.

But the chain of events illustrates just the kind of thing investigators are doing: looking through records, arrest reports and even traffic tickets in the hopes of finding where the men went.

The entire 35-member staff of the U.S. Marshals Service’s Chicago office was involved in the search, a show of force that spokeswoman Belkis Cantor said “was rare.”

 

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