I can’t lie; I didn’t know that anyone had escaped from Alcatraz.
Then again, I’m from the other side of the country and never learned much about it other than “that’s the haunted prison island” and often confused it with Azkaban from the Harry Potter series.
But someone actually did escape. Back in 1962, three inmates, John and Clarence Anglin and Frank Morris, escaped Alcatraz and were never seen again. They were in for bank robbery.
It’s one of the biggest mysteries in the history of the U.S., and it’s considered a cold case with the San Francisco Police Department.
In the 55 years since their daring escape, speculation and theories have abounded as to whether they made it through the Bay or were swept out to sea.
The men spent months planning their escape. They were able to expand the vent holes in their cells with the tools they’d been crafting from their cells for all those months.
The FBI said, “they used a homemade drill made from a broken vacuum cleaner motor,” and crawled through piping and plumbing to get to the roof.
From there, they shimmied down the smoke stack and used a raft of over 50 raincoats to get to the mainland.
They also managed to make life jackets and wooden paddles so that they weren’t sitting ducks once they launched. But they knew they would have to have decoys, since those cells had no real privacy, and so they left behind dummy heads made of “plaster, paper mache, paint and real human hair.”
But now, there’s a new development. SFPD received a letter from a man claiming to be John Anglin.
My name is John Anglin. I escape from Alcatraz in June 1962 with my brother Clarence and Frank Morris. I’m 83 years old and in bad shape. I have cancer. Yes we all made it that night but barely!
He claims that Morris died in 2008, and that his brother died in 2011. The mystery man also pleaded for a deal.
If you announce on TV that I will be promised to first go to jail for no more than a year and get medical attention, I will write back to let you know exactly where I am. This is no joke…
In a statement to CBS, the U.S. Marshall Service said, “There is absolutely no reason to believe that any of them would have changed their lifestyle and became completely law abiding citizens after this escape.”
But they might have been far too scared to commit any crimes and risk being caught and returned to the island prison.
After a thorough forensic investigation, including finger print dusting and a handwriting analysis, the findings were inconclusive. CBS San Francisco reports that the U.S. Marshals report this lead closed, though, since they have no further evidence and consider it to have “no merit.”
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