CHICAGO - A manhunt for two bank robbers who used a makeshift rope to pull off a daring escape from a high-rise Chicago lockup pushed into a second day Wednesday, with authorities offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the men's apprehension.
The former cellmates apparently broke a cell window, pulled out the bars, and then descended almost 20 stories to escape the downtown Metropolitan Correctional Center early Tuesday.
Joseph "Jose" Banks, 37, and Kenneth Conley, 38, were unaccounted for during a 5 a.m. headcount, according to the U.S. Marshals Service. An FBI affidavit says the men were in their assigned areas for a head count around 10 p.m. local time on Monday and that jail employees noticed the makeshift rope around 7 a.m. Nearby business owners said helicopters and canine units did not swarm the area until almost 8:30 a.m.
Inside the cell Tuesday morning, investigators found a broken window and bars inside a mattress, according to an FBI affidavit. Stuffed under blankets on two beds were clothing and sheets, shaped to resemble a body, the affidavit said.
Hours after the escape, the rope of bedsheets could be seen dangling down the side of the building, at least 200 feet long and knotted about every 6 feet.
The FBI has declined to provide details of the escape, but a close-up photograph clearly shows damage to the concrete along the lower edge of the window, which is 6 feet tall but only 6 inches wide. Damage broadened the hole through which the men must have had to climb.
Banks and Conley were the first inmates to escape from the federal facility in nearly two decades. It was still unclear how they were able to accumulate enough bedsheets and other items to pull off the escape or how jail guards failed to detect the scheme or notice that the men were gone until several hours later.
On Wednesday, Thomas Trautmann, the acting special agent-in-charge of the FBI's Chicago office, announced a $50,000 reward leading to their arrests.