In June 1962, three men attempted a daring escape from the notorious Alcatraz prison. It was believed that they made it out of the prison, only to drown before they could reach land. But could they have survived? A newly found letter suggests that may be the case.
The escape of John Morris and brothers Clarence and John Anglin from Alcatraz is the stuff of legend. The men widened the ventilation openings of their cells to make their way to some unguarded utility corridors, where they built and hid what they needed to escape.
On June 11, 1962, they left behind fake heads made of plaster, paper mache, paint and real human hair in their cells. The men then made their way to the roof of the prison through the ventilation. From there, they slid down a smokestack to the ground, where they inflated a raft made from more than 50 raincoats.
There’s a reason why this story has been the subject of so many films and television specials. It’s filled with twists that sound fantastical but are 100% true. They only sticking point has always been the ending of the story.
Did They Live after Alcatraz?
The big question has always been, did the men survive?
The waters around Alcatraz are notoriously cold and rough, and it’s a long swim to the San Francisco mainland. The prisoners’ personal effects eventually washed up on shore, but there was no trace of the men.
Authorities have always said it is unlikely that the men survived. Career criminals like Morris and the Anglin brothers were unlikely to go straight once they had escaped.
But then again, numerous tests over the years, like the one done on the popular TV show MythBusters, have shown that it is plausible that the men made it to shore. Now there may be another piece of proof.
The letter said: “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!”
According to the letter, Morris died in 2008 and Clarence died three years later.
The U.S. Marshals, the only law enforcement agency still investigating the escape, sent the letter to the FBI lab for analysis. The results were inconclusive.