A man nicknamed the “Frito bandit” escaped from custody at the Klamath County Jail early Thursday while on work detail.
Kenneth Robert Banes, 25, has a lengthy criminal record for non-violent crimes including thefts and burglaries. He was being held at the jail on a parole violation.
Banes escaped around 5 a.m. while being escorted into the yard to deposit trash, according to Klamath County Sheriff Tim Evinger.
“We believe he was able to sneak either under or over the fence in the yard,” he said.
Banes’ mother, 46-year-old Kathleen Joann Delaney, and another woman, 21-year-old Syndahl Lezza-Marrea McFarland were arrested Thursday evening on suspicion of aiding and abetting as well as hindering prosecution.
Deputies from the sheriff’s office working in conjunction with officers from the Klamath Falls Police Department scoured the area around the jail as a helicopter searched from the air. Evinger said the searchers used imaging equipment to try to locate Banes in the vegetation around the jail.
Deputies believe Delaney gathered personal belongings, including clothing, for Banes’ acquaintance, McFarland, in preparation for the escape. Investigators have learned that McFarland kept the items for several weeks in her apartment. During a search of her apartment late Thursday morning on Main Street, they found some of Banes’ missing jail clothing hidden in the basement.
“Investigators are talking to any acquaintances and family members,” Evinger said.
This is the first successful escape from the jail since 1989, according to Evinger.
“It’s the first one on my watch,” he said.
Banes is 5 feet, 9 inches tall, weighs 132 pounds, has brown hair and brown eyes and is believed to have changed into blue jeans and a white T-shirt, Evinger said.
Banes got the nickname “Frito bandit” in 2006 after he stole Frito Lay delivery vans. He was also convicted of stealing several other vehicles and committing numerous burglaries and property crimes in Klamath Falls and Lynnwood, Wash.
Banes was sentenced to more than three years in prison for those crimes.
In August 2012 he was arrested in Klamath Falls on a parole violation and was being held without bail in the Klamath County Jail at the time of the escape.
Once Banes is back in custody, Evinger said he will conduct both policy review and physical review of the area to ensure this doesn’t happen again.