Palos Hills police had no idea when they apprehended a 38-year-old man Friday afternoon they had actually captured a wanted FBI fugitive who busted out of federal lockup in Chicago 18 days earlier.
Pretending to be an old man, Kenneth Conley was donning a beret, overcoat, sunglasses and fake-hobbling with a cane when he was stopped for questioning, reports ABC Chicago. Maintenance workers from a Palos Hills apartment called police to report a suspicious person they thought was camping out in the basement.
Police noticed he fugitive was packing a weapon—which turned out to be a BB gun—but had no cash or identification, reports the Tribune. After giving cops a phony name and realizing his cover was blown, Conley allegedly slugged an officer and took off running. However, he was caught minutes later trying to break in to another apartment.
Investigators were in Palos Hills Friday after receiving a tip Conley had knocked on the door of a former acquaintance, reports the Tribune.
In federal court Saturday, Conley was denied bond and ordered to remain in federal custody, reports NBC Chicago.
Despite the escape that had all the elements of a Hollywood blockbuster, the Sun-Times wrote the convicted bank robber "cut a desperate figure" in the courtroom, appearing "pasty, drawn, bearded and balding."
Conley appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheila Finnegan in chains and a wheelchair, his foot badly swollen from an injury sustained while trying flee from police Friday.
Conley had managed to remain on the lam for a full 18 days following his escape from the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago. On Dec. 18, he and co-conspirator Joseph Banks scaled down 15 stories on a rope made of knotted bedsheets after chipping away cinder block surrounding the window, and using decoy bars to fool prison guards.
Many were stumped as to how the men were able to squeeze through windows only five inches wide; the Tribune now reports the two were able to remove an entire cinder block to make an opening large enough to slip out.
The Tribune reports the corrections guard monitoring the surveillance camera may have been called away on other duties at the time of the escape.
Earlier this week, prosecutors dropped escape charges against Banks, who already faces up to 80 years behind bars. Conley, meanwhile, could face up to five years for his escape, and is already facing 20 years for a 2011 bank robbery.