Ghost Burglar details how Bernard Welch and Hugh Colomb managed to escape from the downtown Chicago Metropolitan Correctional Center in 1985. Now 27 years later, two other convicts, Joseph Banks and Kenneth Conley, did the same thing – and the similarities are eerie.
- In 1985, Welch and Colomb were transferred to the MCC to testify about future prison escapes. Banks and Conley were also at the MCC to testify about future prison escapes.
- In 1985, Welch and Colomb broke through the wall beside the bottom of a window using a weight lifting bar to make a hole. Banks and Conley did the same thing, although at this time the type of tool used is unknown.
- In 1985, Welch and Colomb tied dozens of bedsheets together to make a rope, which they draped out the window hole. Banks and Conley did the same thing. It should be noted that Welch and Colomb did not use their bedsheet rope, probably because there was a heavy thunderstorm going on, and they felt the wet cloth knots might not hold in the downpour. Instead, they used a 75-foot-long electrical cord to climb down, leaving the bedsheet rope in place.
- In 1985, Welch reportedly had a lot of money entrusted to his family in Rochester, New York. He traveled there to recover the buried hoard. Banks is thought to have $500,000 stashed somewhere from his earlier crimes. He and his cohort escaped from MCC and went immediately to Banks’s family home, allegedly to eat breakfast. Question: If you had just escaped from prison and knew every law enforcement officer in Chicago would be looking for you, would you go home for breakfast? You might if you were seeking clothes, weapons, or money.
- In 1985, many people were paid off to assist in the escape of Welch and Colomb or to look the other way. Some of them were MCC employees. This was not established until weeks later, after an internal investigation that led to several indictments. In this most recent escape, it is not known what assistance Banks and Conley had on the outside or the inside. Of course it is still early on yet.
- In 1985, Welch and Colomb knew that breaking through a reinforced concrete wall was a noisy activity. Their destructive efforts were covered with the help of several inmates. They also used smuggled hacksaw blades to cut through the steel reinforcement bars inside the wall. And they had managed to accumulate dozens of bedsheets somehow. In this recent escape, how did Banks and Conley hide the noise? Where did they secrete the dozens of bedsheets needed to rappel down the 10, 16, or 20 stories, depending on which report is true? Why was none of this noticed?
Perhaps the officials at MCC should read the chapter in Ghost Burglar that details Detective Sergeant William Rollins’s investigation into the escape of Bernard Welch and Hugh Colomb. They may find it instructive.
― James King & Jack Burch