Is a man who escaped from Alcatraz Prison still alive? A recently surfaced letter, allegedly written by a man who claims he was one of three men who escaped in 1962, wrote the letter. The letter, which came to a San Francisco-area police station in 2013 reads: “My name is John Anglin. I escape [sic] 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!”
The man, who was serving prison time for bank robbery, further notes that he has lived in a number of places undetected: Seattle, North Dakota and Southern California.
They escaped successfully by squeezing through and shimmying down vents in the back of their cells, climbing up pipes and plumbing to reach the outside, before floating off in the San Francisco Bay in a raft made of more than 50 raincoats. They reportedly had made life vests and paddles for their escape as well. Guards found dummy heads in their cells the next morning. They were believed not to have survived, however, as they were never found.
In the letter, the man claiming to be Anglin explains that Frank and Clarence passed away in 2008 and 2011. He also writes that he hopes to get some medical help, posing the following 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.”
The letter forced the FBI to reopen the cold case, with KPIX 5 Security Analyst Jeff Harp noting: “It’s interesting, I mean it’s obviously a very famous case here in San Francisco. As a law enforcement person I’d like to think that their escape attempt was not fruitful for them. Personally, as someone who swims in the bay, and we have a triathlon that goes on every year, and there’s not a single person that doesn’t make that swim.”
The FBI lab reportedly looked for fingerprints and DNA on the letter and studied the handwriting, but the results were inconclusive, as Harp explains: “So that means yes, and it means no, so this leaves everything in limbo.”
In a statement to KPIX 5, the U.S. Marshals Service writes:
“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.”
National Park Service Ranger John Cantwell added:
“The Federal Bureau of Prisons say that they drowned once they got off of Alcatraz and their bodies were swept out to the Pacific Ocean — end of story.”
Jolene Babyak, who lived on the island with her family and whose father was the prison’s acting warden, was 15 years old when the men escaped.
“I didn’t believe that they made it, but that’s because of what the officers were saying,” she said, adding, “I was awakened by the siren, which I had never heard before, so I wasn’t really sure exactly what it was.”
Her thoughts on the letter? Well, she’s not convinced that it’s legitimate, noting: “No evidence, lots of allegations, no real evidence, nothing you can follow up on.”