Thursday, June 11, 2015
JUNE 11 = Escape From Alcatraz?
"I'll never believe they're dead; I don't believe they're dead. I was listening to the radio when (they) told about it... I cut my iron off and I run to my neighbors house and said, 'Did you hear what was on the radio? My brothers escaped from Alcatraz.' "
- Marie Widner, younger sister of Clarence and John Anglin
Inmate Frank Morris along with fellow inmates, brothers Clarence and John Anglin left Alcatraz Island in a makeshift raft made with makeshift life preservers late on the evening of today's date, June 11 in 1962. It was the final leg of their planned escape from the allegedly escape-proof prison on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay (above). None of the men has been seen since, and their bodies have never been found.
Frank Morris and the Anglin Brothers
Frank Morris (right) was born on September 1, 1926, By the time he arrived at Alcatraz on Jan. 18, 1960, he had spent most of his life being moved from one set of foster parents to another, and had as a result spent most of his life as a career criminal. His offenses ran the gamut from narcotics possession to armed robbery. So he was placed in Alcatraz because he was always attempting to escape. Such was also the case with John and Clarence Anglin, who along with their brother Alfred were serving time for bank robbery. They had met Morris at the Atlanta State Penitentiary in Georgia. Like Morris, the Anglins had made repeated attempts to escape over the years. The three men were not violent offenders - they had never injured anyone in the commission of their crimes; but their repeated escape attempts had landed them in Alcatraz. The prison's position - on a rock in the middle of San Francisco Bay, surrounded by fast running currents and cold water - had indeed gotten it the moniker of "escape - proof". Many had tried but had either been recaptured, killed or drowned. Inmate Allen West was also brought in on the escape plan. Although Morris, a very intelligent man was the one who actually masterminded the plan, West would later take credit for its conception.
The Alcatraz Escape and it's Tools
The scheme began being planned in December of 1961, when West collected several old saw blades from a utility corridor he had been cleaning. Every inmate at Alcatraz had his own cell, and the idea was to dig through their cell's six by nine inch vent holes, get on top of the cell block, break through a vent, move outside to the prison roof, and from there down to the ground, into the Bay, and using their makeshift life raft to paddle to nearby Angel Island, and from there to freedom. Guards paced the cell blocks of Alcatraz regularly checking on every cell, so during the interval wherein they would be away from their cells,
By May of 1962, Morris and the Anglins had made it to the top of the cell block, and were working on breaking through that. They needed to loosen the grate over the vent shaft which would lead them to the roof of the prison. West was able to acquire the motor from a vacuum cleaner and drill bits in order to make a crude power tool for this. It was noisy and not very effective but they kept working at it. Using rain coats, some of which were stolen and some of which were donated by
Did Morris and the Anglin's Make It... Alive?
So that leads us to the big question: did Frank Morris, and John and Clarence Anglin really escape from Alcatraz... alive? Certainly the sister of the Anglin brothers hopes so, as quoted at the top of this posting. But the consensus of informed opinion is no, they did not. The waters around Alcatraz were 54 degrees that night. not cold enough to kill the men immediately, but soon after they would have hit the water. And
"Escape From Alcatraz" 1979, Directed by Don Siegel; based on the book by J. Campbell Bruce, screenplay by Richard Tuggle.