aOn June 12, 1962, guards at Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary began their day with a startling discovery. Three inmates were missing from their cells. John Anglin, Clarence Anglin and Frank Morris survived. On their pillows, there were replicas of their heads made of papier-mâché, intended to disguise their absence and rid the guards of their scent.
What happened to them remains a mystery to this day.
John and Clarence Anglin, brothers from Donalsonville, Georgia, are sent to Alcatraz after a bank robbery in Columbia, Alabama. Frank Morris was previously imprisoned for a bank robbery and escaped and was sent to Alcatraz after he was Convicted of burglary. Investigators later theorized that the three men began planning their escape six months before it was revealed, beginning in December 1960.
When Alcatraz opened in 1934, it was seen as a “prison with maximum security, least privilege.” The prison, located on Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay, was intended to display a ruthless force on crime – According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP)“to show a law-abiding audience that the federal government was serious about stopping rampant crime in the 1920s and 1930s.”
Alcatraz was intended for “prisoners who refused to comply with rules and regulations in other federal institutions, who were considered violent and dangerous, or who were considered an escape risk.” In BOP’s own words, it was “designed to be a prison system of the prison system”, where prisoners learned how to earn “perks” (such as “work, communication and visitation with family members, access to the prison library, recreational activities”) before they were sent to serve the rest of their sentences in another place.
So, how did brothers Anglin and Maurice manage to achieve this? According to the FBIThey loosened the vents in their cells, creating enough space to let them out. They then used an unguarded utility corridor as a “secret workshop” where they assembled the tools needed for their escape. These included, according to the bureau, homemade life-sustaining tools and a life raft made of 50 raincoats. (The men are believed to have found instructions on how to assemble temporary life-saving tools and a life raft in the magazines.) They also made a periscope-like instrument to keep watch on guards as they worked, wooden oars, and an inflating instrument. The raft. Using a network of tubes, the men climbed up and then opened the ventilator at the top of the building. They made fake latch using soap to disguise their preparations.
On the night of their escape, the men are believed to have left their cells, collected their supplies, and climbed to the roof. “Then, they touched the smokestack of the bakery at the back of the dungeon, climbed over the fence, crept onto the island’s northeast shore and launched their raft,” According to the FBI’s account.
Whether the men survived is a mystery that the FBI has not been able to solve.
No bodies were found. Over the years, purported evidence of the two men’s survival has surfaced, prompting discussions among investigators, experts, and Anglins’ relatives. In 1979, the FBI closed his case, acknowledging that its investigation, “which lasted for nearly two decades, was unable to determine whether the three men succeeded in escaping or died in the attempt.” The American infantry took over the investigation and have kept it open ever since.
Ken Widener, nephew of John and Clarence Anglin, is convinced that his uncles escaped and managed to get off the island. He and his brother David have conducted a number of media interviews over the years, sharing what they believe is evidence that their relatives made it out of California safely.
As a child, Widener, whose mother was Mary Angeline Widener’s sister to John and Clarence, used to hear the story of his uncle’s escape from Alcatraz. “It’s been a part of my life since I can remember,” he says. independent. “It was always something that was talked about at family reunions.”
In 2012, the case received renewed attention as the media celebrated the 50th anniversary of Anglins and Morris’ escape. That’s also when Widener decided to dig deeper into the case. In 2015, he and his brother David participated in a historic channel special where they unveiled what they say is a photo of John and Clarence Anglin, alive and well, in 1975.
According to Leidner, the photo was taken by family friend Fred Breezy, who gave it to the Anglin family in 1992. “It stayed in my mom’s collection all that time,” he says, until he discovered it himself. In the history channel, a special titled Escape from Alcatraz: The Lost GuideKane and David Widener are shown giving evidence to investigators and seeing that their uncles built a new life as farmers in Brazil after their escape.
“I think it was a way of feeling like, OK, enough time has passed,” says Ken Widener. independent. “…I think it was a way for them to let the family know, ‘Hey, we made it, we’re fine, we haven’t slept, but we can’t go home.'” “
The photo has been the subject of intense commentary and speculation. It’s grainy – as might be expected in an older photo – and appears as two men in sunglasses looking toward the camera.
Michael W. Strid, a retired police sergeant and sketch artist for the Baltimore Police Department who now offers services as a forensic imaging expert, is featured in Escape from Alcatraz: The Lost Guide Analyzing the photo and comparing it with the photos of the three men’s detention, providing an encouraging assessment, saying that he sees “more [in the images] This is similar [to verified images of the men] From what I see it is different.”
Michael Dyke, a now retired U.S. Marine Corps Representative, has investigated the fate of Alcatraz fugitives for years. In 2016, he expressed doubts about the photo, saying ABC30 Some physical characteristics indicate that she does not depict the Anglin brothers. Though, he also said that it cannot be ruled out as a possible lead.
Now, Dyke is more specific. “After working on the case for 17 years, I think so [the three men] It is very likely that they did not survive the first night of their escape.” independent. “Since no body has been found, you can never say that one hundred percent, but based on all the evidence, it is likely that all three died that night and were swept into the ocean.”
Dyke says of the photo: “You can’t recognize the face on either. Because in order to do the facial recognition you have to see the eyes, the pupils, the corners of their mouths. And also the height of the ears on their heads.” He notes that the men in the photo have long hair and glasses. Sunshade and facial hair. This means there is no “valid way” to do a face comparison for either of the men, he says.
He adds that other elements that are unlikely to change over time can be examined, such as the length of the arms and fingers. “I have current photos of both Angén brothers showing their full body. They both have unusually long arms.” Both subjects in the Brazilian photo have short arms. When you take measurements on each of them, you can easily tell that the two men in the photo are not two Angels.”
Fred Breze died in 1998. In 2015, his widow Judith Breze told daily Mail That her husband “didn’t say anything to her [her] ever about the escape of these men from Alcatraz.”
“He showed me the picture because of the size of the anthill. I have no idea what the men in the picture are and Fred never talked about them.” “He said the photo was taken on his trip to Brazil.”
Ken Widener and his brother made another piece of what they consider evidence that their uncles lived. It’s an audio tape that Widener says their mother recorded while Prezi explains what happened to the Anglen brothers.
On the phone with Ken Widener, I asked him if he’d play part of the tape for me. He agrees, and within a few seconds, the audio is playing from the other end of the line. By Widener’s own admission, it’s hard to tell what the people on the tape are saying, because the recording is old – and listening to it over the phone probably wouldn’t help me. A clearer version aired on the History Channel – the same section I hear. “Nobody knows positively that they’re really alive, but me,” Prezi says in the tape.
Dyke says he has listened to the entire tape and sees inconsistencies in Prezi’s account. To him, much of Prezi’s account of events is “meaningless and exaggerated.”
Think about Alcatraz escaping long enough, and you’ll inevitably start wondering about the bodies. In the 60 years since the escape, no body has ever been found. If the men had drifted into the ocean, or if they had drowned, wouldn’t their remains float to the surface now?
Well, not necessarily. According to 2002 The New York Times Q&A (which was not specifically related to this Alcatraz escape but did share general information about what happens to human bodies in the water), “a body in cold water may never surface” because cold water slows down decomposition, thus releasing gases that cause bodies to rise to Surface.
In addition, Dyke says, marine life in the Bay Area and in the nearby ocean, which includes “crabs or other seafloor-dwelling organisms” [which] It usually makes holes in the body”, which also prevents the build-up of gases that would cause the body to float.
“Based on the tide charts from that evening, it was most likely washed away directly into the ocean,” Dyke adds. “If they had left half an hour earlier than today, or even an hour later in the day, their bodies might have been recovered.”
But, as Ken Widener wonders over the phone, if detectives are so convinced that the fugitives drowned, why not close the case? Why did the FBI release old photos of all three men?
“As long as the bodies are not found, there is still a possibility that they are both on the run and alive, even if the chance is very slim,” Dyck says. There are procedural reasons, too: As long as there is an active fugitive order for the three fugitives, the US Marshal’s Chamber will not close its case, he says, and “it is not standard practice to request that an order be dismissed without strong evidence ‘to support’ it”—such as finding remains or DNA evidence.
In 2012, on the 50th anniversary of the escape, US Marshal Don O’Keefe said Reuters The ongoing investigation “serves as a warning to fugitives that no matter what time, we will continue to search for you and bring you to justice” – language that suggests the service’s desire to send a message and display an image of perseverance, perhaps more than anything else. US Infantry Service said earlier It will continue to investigate the fate of the two men until they are arrested, proven dead, or presumed to have reached the age of ninety-nine. This would put the deadline for formally resolving the issue in 2030.
Ken Widener says he and his family can’t believe the Anglen brothers are still alive, but they escaped and later died. He believes that any future investigation should aim not to “find them alive, but to find their grave”.