CHICAGO (AP) — The second of two bank robbers who made a daring escape from a high-rise federal jail in downtown Chicago has been arrested, federal officials said Friday.
Kenneth Conley was captured in the suburb of Palos Hills, according to U.S. Marshals Service spokeswoman Belkis Cantor. Cantor said someone had called Palos Hills police Friday morning to say they had seen and recognized Conley.
Conley fled the Metropolitan Correctional Center last month with Joseph "Jose" Banks, apparently by smashing a hole in a wall at the bottom of a narrow cell window and squeezing through before scaling down about 20 stories using a knotted rope made out of bed sheets.
Banks was arrested without incident two days later at a home on the city's North Side.
Jail officials did not notice for hours on the morning of the escape that Banks and Conley were gone. Surveillance video from a nearby street showing the two hopping into a cab shortly before 3 a.m. on Dec. 18. They had changed out of their orange jail-issued jumpsuits.
When the facility did discover the two men were gone around 7 a.m., what was found revealed a meticulously planned escape, including clothing and sheets shaped to resemble a body under blankets on beds, bars inside a mattress and even fake bars in the cells.
A massive manhunt involving state, federal and local law enforcement agencies was launched, as SWAT teams stormed into the home of a relative of Conley only to learn the two escapees had been there and left. The authorities searched other area homes and businesses — even a strip club where Conley once worked.
Law enforcement officials left a host of questions unanswered, including how the men could collect about 200 feet (60 meters) of bed sheets and what they might have used to break through the wall of the federal facility.
Conley, 38, pleaded guilty last October to robbing a Homewood Bank last year of nearly $4,000. He wore a coat and tie during the robbery and had a gun stuffed in his waistband.
Banks, 37, known as the Second-Hand Bandit because he wore used clothes during his heists, had been convicted of robbing two banks and attempting to rob two others. Authorities say he stole almost $600,000, and most of that still is missing.
During trial, he had to be restrained because he threatened to walk out of the courtroom. He acted as his own attorney and verbally sparred with the prosecutor, at times arguing that U.S. law didn't apply to him because he was a sovereign citizen of a group that was above state and federal law.