Merchandise Mart execs still at large after daring escape

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The Merchandise Mart, scene of this mornings dramatic escape
  • Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times Media
  • The Merchandise Mart, scene of this morning's dramatic escape
Police are looking for two corporate executives after their dramatic escape this morning from the Merchandise Mart.

The execs, whom police described as stocky middle-aged white men dressed in pinstripes and wingtips, apparently rappelled down the building's southern facade from a second-floor window on a rope of heavyweight garland, which had been serving as office decoration. Authorities were uncertain how the men managed to get out the window, which is only five feet wide.

The execs were last seen in their office during an 8 AM conference call. Two hours later, a secretary noticed that two figures hunched in front of computers in corner offices were mannequins, and employees realized their CEO and CFO were AWOL. Police believe the mannequins were stolen from the adjacent Apparel Mart.

The motive for the escape is unclear. "I know they were getting sick of all the holiday parties," an aide to one of the execs said. But police were also exploring the possibility that this was a copycat escape, inspired by yesterday's breakout from the Metropolitan Correctional Center.

This is only the seventh successful escape from the Mart since the building opened in 1930.

A third exec apparently tried to rappel down later this morning, but lost his grip on the garland when he tried to send a text message. He plummeted to street level, where his fall was broken by another exec checking his voice mail. Neither phone was seriously injured.

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