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Kenneth Conley, escaped inmate, appears in court after being captured in Palos Hills

Wednesday, January 09, 2013
Kenneth Conley
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A convicted bank robber who made a brazen escape out of a downtown correctional center made his first court appearance Saturday.

Authorities captured Kenneth Conley Friday afternoon after 18 days on the run.

Conley was ordered to be held without bond. He appeared thinner than his booking photo and he was unable to stand. Not quite the portrait of a daring escapee.

Conley, in the custody of federal marshals, arrived for court in the back of an SUV.

At the hearing, he was chained and seated in a wheelchair, his legs extended, the result of an apparent foot injury sustained yesterday during his arrest.

"There was a, quite a bit of a tussle there," said Palos Hills Police Chief Paul Madigan said. "He did not give up easy."

Conley was found at a Palos Hills apartment complex.

Police say they responded to a report of a suspicious person staying in a basement and encountered Conley dressed as an old man, wearing an overcoat and beret and using a cane.

"The guy could not provide any identification," Madigan said. "So while the officer was trying to determine who he was, he punched the officer, knocked him down, and ran."

Police say the 38-year-old Conley did not get far and was ultimately arrested following a scuffle that injured a lieutenant.

Police say a BB gun was found in Conley's possession.

"It could have really ruined his day if he would have pulled it out on the officers because they have no way of knowing whether it's a real one or a bad one, and considering who he was he put himself in a bad spot," said Madigan.

Conley's capture came after at least one violent encounter with an area homeowner.

"He was trying to push his way in," said Dan Katula. "I gave him a hard shoulder to the face and then that kind of backed him off a little bit. I let go. I hit him as hard as I could this way and then just slammed the door shut."

Conley's arrest comes two and a half weeks after he and cellmate, Joseph "Jose" Banks, allegedly escaped from the Metropolitan Correctional Center using a makeshift rope of bed sheets.

Banks was captured on the city's North Side after three days on the run.

Last week, the FBI said it believed Conley had fled the state.

"You would think he would've been, already had his connections somewhere else," said Palos Hills resident Kenny Stucky. "Go to Indiana or Wisconsin or the boonies or something, you know. Why stick around here when your face is on billboards and stuff?"

Conley is due back in court later this month. After Saturday's hearing he was returned to the MCC, which is where his alleged escape partner is being held as well.

Both men are in isolation, far apart from each other.

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