CHICAGO – The second of two bank robbers who escaped last month from a high-rise federal jail in downtown Chicago was captured Friday afternoon, at an apartment complex across the street from a suburban police department, authorities said.
Kenneth Conley was arrested in Palos Hills, according to U.S. Marshals Service spokeswoman Belkis Cantor. She said someone called local police Friday morning thinking they recognized Conley. FBI spokeswoman Joan Hyde said the Palos Hills Police Department took him into custody.
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.
A man who answered the phone at a number listed for Conley’s brother, Nicholas Conley, in Orland Hills refused to answer questions and asked that the family be left alone. A message left for Conley’s mother was not immediately returned.
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 showed 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 discovered 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 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.