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Jan 272013
 

ABC News(DETROIT) — A nationwide manhunt is underway for a career criminal who has twice escaped from jail by switching identities with other inmates.

Authorities did not notice Rocky Marquez, 34, was missing from a Detroit jail until five days after he walked out the front door undetected.

“Mr. Marquez does have a bit of a head start, but we have the best of the best working on this case and I’m confident Rocky will be put behind bars,” said Deputy U.S. Marshal Frederick J. Freeman.

A fugitive apprehension team along with the U.S. Marshals and other police agencies are searching for Marquez.

According to police, on Jan. 20, Marquez switched ID wristbands with another inmate, who was about to be freed on bond. Marquez then simply walked out of the Wayne County jail.

“He’s smarter than your average criminal. He’s somehow getting inmates to cooperate with him to use their identities to walk out of jail,” Freeman said.

This was not the first time Marquez staged a jailbreak.

According to U.S. Marshal David Gonzalez, Marquez pulled the same stunt in a Phoenix prison eight months ago when he switched wristbands with another inmate who he had befriended and who had a similar complexion and build.

“He obviously has a penchant for getting out of jail and wanting to stay out of jail, but hopefully we can put an end to that run here soon,” Gonzalez said.

Marquez was arrested in Detroit after the U.S. Marshals tracked a car they believed he was using to the city.

Marquez, whose criminal record includes drug smuggling, perjury and witness tampering, was awaiting extradition to Phoenix when he escaped last week.

Officials from the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office said there would be an investigation into the reasons for Marquez’s escape.

“We have policies and procedures in place that should have prevented something like this from happening,” the sheriff’s office told ABC News.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Jan 042013
 

Kevin Horan/Stone(CHICAGO) — A convicted bank robber who escaped jail before Christmas is back in custody.  

Kenneth Conley, 38, one of two inmates who escaped from the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Chicago on Dec. 18, was taken into custody at an apartment complex in the suburb of Palos Hills Friday evening.  The other man, Joseph “Jose” Banks, 37, was captured just two days after the escape.  

Banks and Conley were last seen Dec. 17 at 10 p.m. during a prison head count at the correctional center in downtown Chicago’s Loop district.  The two borrowed a move from the film Escape From Alcatraz by stuffing their beds with clothes in the shape of bodies.

The men then broke the window of their cell at the federal prison, shimmying out a hole only inches wide, and scaled 17 stories down the side of the building, all the while holding onto a rope of sheets and towels taken from the prison.  The rope was strong enough to support the two, one weighing 165 pounds the other 185 pounds.

At 7 a.m. the next morning, as employees arrived at work, they noticed the sheets left dangling from the building and discovered that Conley and Banks were missing.

Investigators said surveillance cameras captured Banks and Conley getting into a taxi minutes after their brazen escape.  They entered the taxi at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Congress Street, just blocks away from the jail.

The men then showed up at the home of Sandy Conley, Kenneth Conley’s mother, in the Chicago suburb of Tinley Park, Ill., on Tuesday morning, only five hours after they escaped.

“He was in the house for two minutes,” Sandy Conley told ABC News on Thursday.  “I can’t tell you if he was armed.  I made him get out.”

It is unclear what connection, if any, Conley might have to the Palos Hills apartment complex where he was apprehended.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Jan 032013
 

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Five inmates at a jail in Boise, Idaho, have filed a billion dollar lawsuit, claiming they wouldn’t be behind bars if it wasn’t for booze.

The Idaho Statesman reports Cory A. Baugh, Jeremy J. Brown, Keith Allen Brown, Woodrow J. Grant and Steven J. Thompson — who all were sentenced to jail for crimes ranging from murder to selling drugs — say manufacturers like Miller Brewing Company and Anheuser-Busch, as well as wine makers like E. and J. Gallo, should have warned them their products can be addictive.

The inmates, who don’t have a lawyer, are asking for warning labels on alcohol products, and a billion dollars in damages.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Dec 202012
 

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) — The manhunt for two bank robbers who escaped from a downtown Chicago prison this week intensified overnight, with police chasing multiple leads as new footage shows the men getting into a taxi minutes after their brazen escape.

Investigators say surveillance cameras captured Joseph “Jose” Banks, 37, and Kenneth Conley, 38, getting into a taxi minutes after their early Tuesday escape.  They entered the taxi at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Congress Street, just blocks away from the jail.

The men then showed up five hours later at the home of Sandy Conley, Kenneth Conley’s mother, in the Chicago suburb of Tinley Park, Ill.

“He was in the house for two minutes,” Sandy Conley said.  “I can’t tell you if he was armed.  I made him get out.”

Thomas Trautmann of the Chicago FBI said the clock is ticking on finding the men, whom the FBI consider “armed and dangerous.”

“[As] each hour goes by, our chances get longer and longer,” he said.  “However, we do have several viable leads that we are running down.”

Trautmann did not specify the information.

Banks and Conley were last seen Monday at 10 p.m. during a prison head count at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Chicago’s Loop district.  The two borrowed a move from the film Escape From Alcatraz by stuffing their beds with clothes in the shape of bodies.

They men then broke the window of their cell at the federal prison, shimmying out a hole only inches wide, and scaled down the side of the building 17 stories, all the while holding onto a rope of sheets and towels taken from the prison.  The rope was strong enough to support the two, one weighing 165 pounds, the other 185 pounds.

At 7 a.m. the next morning, as employees arrived at work, they noticed the sheets left dangling from the building and discovered that Conley and Banks were missing.

While the men have had plenty of time to leave the area, there’s no indication that they have, ABC 7 TV’s public-safety expert Jody Weis said.

“There’s a likelihood that they’re going to stay here,” Weis, a former Chicago police superintendent, said.  “They’ll have people they can trust.  They can have people they can work with.  There are going to be people that might be able to hide them out.”

Banks, nicknamed “the second-hand bandit” because of the used clothing disguises he wore in several robberies, was convicted of armed robbery last week.  His parting words to his judge, Rebecca Pallmeyer, were, “I’ll be seeking retribution as well as damages … you’ll hear from me.”

Conley had been in jail for several years.

Pallmeyer and others who presided over the men’s cases have reportedly been offered protection.

“If they’re willing to go down a sheet 17 floors, they’re willing to take a chance,” Weis said.  “And I think you can draw your own conclusion as to what that might mean.”

The FBI and U.S. Marshals are offering a combined reward of $60,000 to find the inmates and bring them back into custody.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Dec 192012
 

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) — A manhunt is underway after two bank robbers escaped from their Chicago jail cell by breaking through the window and scaling down the building with a makeshift rope of bed sheets and blankets.

Joseph “Jose” Banks and Kenneth Conley were last spotted Tuesday morning, 25 miles away in Tinley Park, Ill., at Conley’s mother’s home, according to ABC News affiliate WLS-TV.

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 only a few hours.  FBI spokesperson Joan Hyde said the two bank robbers should be considered “armed and dangerous.”

Banks, 37, and Conley, 38, were being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, a federal jail, in downtown Chicago.  Police say the two men, who were cellmates, were last seen in the jail Monday at 10 p.m. during a head count.

In an FBI affidavit filed Tuesday night, authorities say 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 window and scaled down more than 20 stories using rope made of bed sheets, towels and blankets.

To cover up their escape, Banks and Conley made fake bars to put over the five-inch wide 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 were spotted in Tinley Park, WLS reported.

Hyde said that the trail has since gone cold, and that no one should take matters into their own hands if Banks and Conley are spotted.

Banks is a notorious bank robber known as the Second-Hand Bandit because he wore used clothes during his heists.  He was convicted last week of robbing two banks and attempting to rob two others.  Court records show that he stole less than $600,000 and more than $500,000 of it is still missing.

Banks represented himself in court, 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 of robbing $4,000 from a bank, according to WLS.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio