Man Pulled from Air Duct Charged in Bank Robbery

Charles Estelle faces federal bank robbery charge

Monday, Jun 4, 2012  |  Updated 2:09 PM CDT
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    Manhunt for Bank Robber in Oak Lawn

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    Federal charges were filed Sunday against a Chicago man accused in a bank robbery and 10-hour manhunt that had a neighborhood on edge the day before. The search finally ended when police found the man cowering inside the air duct system of a nearby strip mall.

    Charles Estell, 38, is accused of robbing the Bank of America at 4606 W. 111th St. in Oak Lawn.

    The robbery happened around 2 p.m.  Estelle confronted two bank employees as they were closing up for the day, tied them up and grabbed as much as $100,000 in cash, according to the FBI.  He stuffed the cash into a blue backpack, but an alarm alerted police, who surrounded the bank before he was able to leave.

    The suspect somehow made his way onto the roof of the Ranch Manor Shopping Center, an adjacent strip mall, and climbed inside its air ducts. Police used remote cameras, robots and dogs to root him out.  For 10 hours, police and the FBI went over the building complex with a fine-toothed comb.  At 12:30 a.m., they say they found Estell hiding in a second-floor air duct, above a drop ceiling.

    Oak Lawn police told the Chicago Sun-Times that the man was wedged so tightly in his hiding place, they had to cut him out in order to arrest him.

    Authorities recovered the cash.

    It's not yet clear whether Estell had an accomplice, authorities said.

    Estell was ordered to be held without bond.  His next court appearance is Tuesday.

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