Chicago Jail Escape: Bank Robbers Informed on by Mother

PHOTO: Kenneth Conley, left, and Jose Banks two inmates who escaped from the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Chicago, Dec. 18, 2012.
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The mother of one of the two bank robbers who daringly escaped from a Chicago jail cell by breaking through the window and scurrying down the building, notified the police of their visit to her Tinley Park suburban home.

Joseph "Jose" Banks and Kenneth Conley turned up at the home of Sandy Conley after they scaled the wall of the jail using a rope fashioned from bed sheets and blankets. Once they arrived at the home where Conley's mother lived with her other children on Tuesday morning, they were quickly turned away, her landlord said.

"He came into the house and he was with the other guy, and they came up and she said, 'I can't help you.' Then she called the police," Ron Bailey, Sandy Conley's landlord, told ABCNews.com. "I don't know if I'd have been able to do that to my own kid."

As a massive manhunt for the two bank robbers, who police said should be considered "armed and dangerous," entered its second day, the FBI announced it would offer a $50,000 reward for information leading to their apprehension, ABC-owned Chicago station WLS reported.

An upstairs neighbor told landlord Ron Bailey that Banks and Conley showed up at the home and Conley's mother took a gun away from him before they left, WLS reported.

The FBI stormed the house but believe they missed the escapees by a few hours. Banks, 37, and Conley, 38, were being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, a federal jail in Chicago's Loop District. Police said the two men, who were cell mates, were last seen in the jail Monday at 10 p.m. during a head count.

Bailey said that he was sitting at the bar he owns in Tinley Park watching the television when he saw news footage of his property being swarmed by police.

"I just saw the SWAT team and the feds coming at the house," he said. "I jumped in my car and got over there, but they wouldn't let me near the place. I waited half an hour, and then left."

Bailey said that he had spoken to Sandy Conley, who works as a home nurse, several times since her encounter with her son and Banks.

"She's upset, she's crying," he said. "She's a good woman."

In an FBI affidavit filed Tuesday night, authorities said sometime after the head count the two men stuffed their beds with clothes in the shape of bodies and broke the window inside their cell. They squeezed through the 5-inch window and scaled down more than 20 stories using a rope made of bed sheets, towels and blankets.

To cover up their escape, Banks and Conley made fake bars to put over the window and placed the actual metal bars inside a mattress, according to the affidavit.

Police did not realize the men had escaped until approximately 7 a.m. Tuesday when arriving employees noticed the rope that led the men to freedom still dangling from the building.

Four elementary schools and a middle school were put on a soft lockdown, and all after school activities were canceled after police got word the escapees had been spotted in Tinley Park, WLS reported.

FBI spokeswoman Joan Hyde said the trail had since gone cold, and that no one should take matters into their own hands if Banks and Conley were spotted.

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. Court records show that he stole less than $600,000, but more than $500,000 of it is still missing, and he could have access to it, WLS reported.

Banks, who represented himself at trial, had to be restrained at one point and vowed he would seek retribution, telling the judge, "You'll hear from me," WLS reported.

Conley was scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 10 after he pleaded guilty to robbing $4,000 from a bank, according to WLS.

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