Chicago jail escape resembles 1985 breakout

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 20, 2012 at 6:07 am •  Published: December 20, 2012
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CHICAGO (AP) — This week's daring escape from a downtown Chicago jail bore striking similarities to the last time anyone broke out of the high-rise facility, nearly three decades ago.

Sometime before 2:45 a.m. Tuesday, authorities say, convicted bank robbers Kenneth Conley and Joseph Banks apparently broke their cell window, then rappelled down about 20 stories using a makeshift rope made of bed sheets. They then changed clothes and caught a cab out of downtown.

During the 1985 escape, two convicted murderers used a weight to break a cell window, then shimmied down the side of the Metropolitan Correctional Center using bed sheets and an electrical cord. A car was waiting to take them to Milwaukee.

The 1985 escapees managed to elude police for months before they were found — one in Pennsylvania, the other in Mississippi.

As of Thursday morning, Conley and Banks' whereabouts remained unknown.

But the manhunt has expanded, with the authorities raiding houses and combing through records looking for anybody with ties to the former inmates and the FBI offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to their apprehension.

Law enforcement officials said the pair were seen getting into the cab around 2:45 a.m. — about 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.

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.

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