FBI searching for two bank robbers who escaped from MCC

2012-12-18T13:36:00Z 2013-01-04T15:11:05Z FBI searching for two bank robbers who escaped from MCCLauri Harvey Keagle lauri.keagle@nwi.com, (219) 852-4311 nwitimes.com

CHICAGO | A federal manhunt continued into the night for two convicted bank robbers who escaped from the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Chicago early Tuesday.

FBI officials were looking for Jose Banks, 37, and Kenneth Conley, 38.

Banks is about 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighs about 160 pounds.

Conley is 6 feet tall and weighs about 185 pounds.

Chicago police Sgt. Michael Lazarro said their disappearance was discovered about 8:45 Tuesday morning, a little less than four hours after they were last checked.

Lazarro said what appeared to be rope or bed sheets, knotted at 6-foot intervals, dangled into an alley from a window approximately 20 stories above the ground.

Lazarro said the two were wearing orange jump suits when they escaped but that they may now be wearing white T-shirts, gray sweat pants and white gym shoes.

Banks was convicted, and Conley recently pleaded guilty.

According to a statement issued by the FBI, the pair are believed to be traveling together and were last seen near Tinley Park, where Conley lived prior to his arrest. Both should be considered armed and dangerous.

The FBI said the pair was not inside a Tinley Park home SWAT teams stormed earlier in the day, but said there were signs the men had been there hours earlier.

FBI Special Agent Frank Bochte said Tuesday investigators were processing the scene at the Tinley Park home for evidence. He also said federal, state and local law enforcement agencies were fanning out across the Chicago area, focusing on spots where the two might have lived or where friends and relatives live. He said police helicopters and canine units were being used.

Federal arrest warrants also were issued Tuesday for the duo.

Conley was arrested in September 2011 in California after robbing an MB Financial Bank inside Walt's Grocery Store, 2345 W. 183rd St. in Homewood in May 2011. Conley allegedly pointed a black pistol at a teller, told her to open the drawer and hand him the money.

Days afterward, he was arrested by Chicago Heights police after allegedly pointing a gun at a person from a gold Land Rover. During that arrest, police recovered a black BB gun and suit that resembled the one worn in the Homewood bank robbery.

Conley was employed as a floor host at Club 390 strip club, 390 Joe Orr Road in Chicago Heights and allegedly reported to work late the day of the robbery. A club manager told investigators the day of the robbery, Conley came in late to pay another employee the remainder of a loan he owed.

Conley allegedly said he was flying to Bermuda the next day. A club employee told investigators at the time that when Conley paid the employee $500 for the loan, he allegedly had more cash than usual.

The FBI is asking anyone who sees Conley or Banks to contact local law enforcement of the Chicago office of the FBI at (312) 421-6700.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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