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Hunt for escapees was delayed

CHICAGO — A search for two bank robbers who used a makeshift rope to pull off a ­daring escape from a high-rise federal prison in Chicago pushed into a second day Wednesday, with authorities offer­ing a $50,000 reward for information leading to capture of the men.

The former cellmates apparently broke a cell window, pulled out the bars, then descended almost 20 stories to escape the downtown Metropolitan Correctional Center early Tuesday.

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Joseph Banks, 37, and ­Kenneth Conley, 38, were un­accounted for during a 5 a.m. headcount, according to the US Marshals Service. An FBI affidavit says that the men were in their assigned ­areas for a head count around 10 p.m. Monday, and that jail employees noticed the makeshift rope around 7 a.m.

Nearby business owners said helicopters and police dogs did not swarm the area until almost 8:30 a.m.

The FBI reissued a plea to the public to be watchful for the men, whom they believe are traveling together, and warned that they should be considered armed and dangerous. Thomas Trautmann, acting special agent in charge of the FBI’s Chicago office, announced a $50,000 reward for information leading to their arrests.

Hours after the escape, the rope of bed sheets could be seen dangling down the side of the building, at least 200 feet long and knotted about every 6 feet.

The FBI has declined to provide details of the escape, but a close-up photograph clearly shows damage to the concrete along the lower edge of the window, which is 6 feet tall but only 6 inches wide.

Banks and Conley were the first inmates to escape from the federal facility in nearly two ­decades.

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