The Chicago office of the FBI announced a $50,000 reward Wednesday for information leading to the apprehension of two escapees from the Metropolitan Correctional Center.
Two convicted bank robbers, 37-year-old Jose Banks and 38-year-old Kenneth Conley, were discovered missing Tuesday morning and haven't been seen since. According to authorities, affidavit, Banks and Conley were cellmates and were present during a physical head count at 10 p.m. Monday.
But at about 2:40 a.m., surveillance cameras recorded the pair getting into a taxi at South Michigan Avenue and West Congress Parkway, already out of their prison-issued orange jumpsuits, and heading south on Michigan, the bureau said.
Investigators said the pair used a rope made from bed sheets and other linens to rappel down the side of the building from the cell at the federal jail in the Loop.
It's a bold break that has many questioning how it happened. Business owners near the MCC reported seeing the 200-foot "rope" at around 7 a.m. Tuesday, but said officials and their search dogs didn't appear for about 90 minutes.
When authorities found Banks and Conley missing, they discovered metal window bars in a bed mattress and fake bars inside the cell.
Officials also found clothing in the shape of a body in the bed blankets and the escape rope tied to the bars of the broken window that's believed to be only six inches wide.
The Metropolitan Correctional Center is a federal detention center in Chicago's Loop operated by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. While he has no jurisdiction over the facility, police Supt. Garry McCarthy said he was surprised at the method of escape.
"I can't see a rational person climbing down with bed sheets from more than a couple of feet, and this was obviously quite a bit more than that," he said. "We're actively involved in the hunt for these individuals and we're cooperating with the various task force personnel who are hunting them as we speak. We're going to catch them."
Conley was convicted of stealing $4,000 last year from a bank in Homewood. Banks was convicted just last week for four bank heists where he stole $600,000. Most of that money was not recovered, so the concern is that if Banks has access to cash, they could be far away.
The men are believed to be together and should be considered dangerous.