Bank robber from daring Chicago jail escape caught after manhunt

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 18: Crime scene tape surrounds the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center in the Loop after two convicted bank robbers escaped on December 18, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Joseph "Jose" Banks and Ken Conley appear to have busted away concrete to enlarge a window opening then climbed down about 16 stories on makeshift ropes on the outside of the building. Banks, known as the Second-Hand Bandit, was convicted last week of two bank robberies and two attempted robberies where he made off with a nearly $600,000, $500,000 of which is still unaccounted for. Conley was convicted of robbing nearly $4,000 from a bank last year. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Scott Olson

CHICAGO One of two bank robbers was arrested late Thursday after a manhunt following the pair's daring escape from a high-rise federal jail in Chicago, the FBI said.

FBI spokeswoman Joan Hyde said Joseph "Jose" Banks was captured without incident in Chicago. Agents and officers from the Chicago FBI's Violent Crimes Task Force, along with officers from the Chicago Police Department, arrested Banks about 11:30 p.m. Thursday, Hyde said in a news release.

The search continued early Friday for Kenneth Conley, who fled the jail with Banks early Tuesday.

Banks, 37, and Conley, 38, somehow broke a large hole into the bottom of a 6-inch wide window of the Metropolitan Correctional Center, dropped a makeshift rope made of bed sheets out and climbed down about 20 stories to the ground.

The escape went unnoticed for hours, with surveillance video from a nearby street showing the two hopping into a cab shortly before 3 a.m. Tuesday. They were no longer wearing 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 had been there but had left, and searched other area homes and businesses -- including a strip club where Conley once worked.

Law enforcement officials did not answer a host of questions, 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.

Banks, known as the Second-Hand Bandit because he wore used clothes during his heists, was convicted last week 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.

Conley pleaded guilty last October to robbing a Homewood Bank last year of nearly $4,000. Conley, who worked at the time at a suburban strip club, wore a coat and tie when he robbed the bank and had a gun stuffed in his waistband.