Second bank robber escapee arrested in Palos Hills
BY FRANK MAIN, KIM JANSSEN AND CASEY TONER Staff Reporters January 4, 2013 4:44PM
This undated photo provided by the FBI shows , Kenneth Conley one of two inmates who escaped from the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Chicago Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012. Chicago Police Sgt. Michael Lazarro says their disappearance was discovered at about 8:45 Tuesday morning. Lazarro says the pair used a rope or bed sheets to climb from the building. (AP Photo/FBI,HONS
Updated: February 6, 2013 6:11AM
Just like his partner, escaped bank robber Kenneth Conley didn’t venture far from home before he was caught.
Conley was nabbed with the help of a resident who punched him around 4 p.m. Friday in southwest suburban Palos Hills — less than 100 yards from where he once lived a decade ago, according to public records.
Conley also was in disguise, a tactic he may have learned from his escape accomplice, Jose Banks, dubbed the “Second Hand Bandit” for the thrift store disguises he wore during heists.
When arrested, the 38-year-old Conley allegedly was dressed as an old man, wearing sunglasses, a beret, an overcoat and even walked with a cane, according to Palos Hills Deputy Police Chief James Boie.
Two maintenance workers had alerted police that someone had been sleeping in the basement of a condo building undergoing renovation in the 10200 block of South 86th Terrace.
When two officers spotted the disguised Conley nearby and stopped him for questioning, Conley gave a phony name, then, realizing his capture was imminent, allegedly punched one of the cops to the floor and wrestled with him before running away, Boie said.
He was arrested minutes later, allegedly trying to break into a home in the 10200 block of 84th Terrace.
The 6-foot , 7-inch man who lived in the apartment, a 33-year-old high school teacher who would only identify himself as “Dan,” said Conley tried to enter his condo about 3:40 p.m. The man said he lives there with his four young children and was sitting in his living room playing with his baby when Conley opened up his screen door and got halfway inside.
“I was like ‘I don’t think you’re getting in here at all,’” the man said.
He said he hit Conley with his shoulder first and then punched him in the face, which caused Conley to stumble over onto the grass outside and into custody of the police.
“Where he met his end was here,” the man said. “He didn’t get permission to enter my place. He got taken out of here in a bad way.”
Police found a BB gun in his pocket but he had no ID or money, Boie said.
Conley was taken to Palos Community Hospital for a checkup alongside two officers who both suffered minor injuries in the arrest.
Praising the officers for doing a great job, Boie said that deputy U.S. Marshals and the FBI had been in the area earlier this week, following up on a tip that Conley was in the area.
Conley and Banks escaped on Dec. 18 from the federal jail in downtown Chicago. Banks was caught on Dec. 20 in Lincoln Park, an area where he too once lived.
The men were the focus of a massive manhunt after they used a rope made of bedsheets to break out of their 17th-floor cell in the Metropolitan Correctional Center.
Hours after their escape, Conley and Banks briefly stopped at Conley’s mother’s house in south suburban Tinley Park but were sent away.
“We’re glad it’s over,” said a relative who answered the phone at Conley’s mother’s Tinley Park home Friday evening.
Belkis Sandoval, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Marshals Service, said members of a joint task force were in the Palos Hills area on Friday morning searching for Conley.
Conley, a convicted bank robber, faces an escape charge, federal prosecutors said Friday. No court date has been set.
On Thursday, prosecutors said they were dropping an escape charge against Banks because he faces up to 80 years on his robbery conviction and the escape charge carries a maximum sentence of five years.
Banks also was caught thanks to a call from a tipster.
Contributing: Michael Lansu