CHICAGO
12/19/2012 03:10 pm ET Updated Dec 20, 2012

Chicago Prison Break: $50,000 Reward Posted As Manhunt For Escaped Inmates Continues

A day after two bank robbers escaped from a high-security high-rise lockup in downtown Chicago, the FBI is offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the capture of Joseph "Jose" Banks and Kenneth Conley.

Prison officials were shocked to learn the men had escaped from the Metropolitan Correctional Center at 71 W. Van Buren early Tuesday morning by knotting bedsheets together and fleeing through a window just five inches wide, 15 stories above the ground. Federal jail employees reportedly found one the mattresses in the cell had been used to conceal metal bars from the window, with decoy bars, as well.

As of Wednesday morning, the FBI had no developments on the fugitives, according to the Tribune. "Unfortunately, we don't have any new news," said FBI spokeswoman Joan Hyde. "Our focus is still primarily on the Chicago metropolitan area."

Later Wednesday, the FBI revealed more information about the duo's whereabouts after somehow exiting the prison:

The FBI said surveillance footage from a camera near the Metropolitan Correction Center shows Kenneth Conley and Joseph Banks getting into a cab at about 2:45 a.m. Thursday - about two hours after guards were supposed to do a bed check and four hours before workers spotted the rope dangling from the jail. The pair had changed from their orange jail-issued jumpsuits into light-colored pants and light-colored shirts, the FBI said.

The two cellmates are believed to be traveling together, with police focusing their efforts Tuesday in nearby Tinley Park where Conley's mother lives, according to NBC Chicago. Though officials say the search is still focused around the Chicago area, NBC reports the pair may have gotten as much as a nine-hour head start on police.

Adding to investigators' fear is that at least one of the men may have access to large sums of cash to help facilitate life on the lam. A string of heists netted almost $600,000 for Banks, according the Sun-Times, but only a fraction of it, per trial testimony, has been recovered or accounted for.

Conley family members have so far declined to comment, while the Tribune says Banks' family learned of the escape on the news and are pleading for their relative to turn himself in.

"I just don't want to see him get hurt or killed," said Banks' cousin, Theresa Ann. "(The family) is trying to hold themselves together. We just have to have faith in God and hope everything goes right."

The escape is the first one at that federal facility since 1985. Jennifer Lucente of the Chicago Architecture Foundation told CBS News architect Harry Weese was asked to design a "more humane" lockup following the bloody 1970s prison riots in Attica, NY. Ironically, it was one reason, according to Lucente, Weese ensured each cell had a window.

Anyone who sees the men is being urged to call the FBI's Chicago office at 312-421-6700.

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