New Evidence: Alcatraz Escapees Didn't Die
John and Clarence Anglin would be in their 80s today
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 11, 2015 4:00 PM CDT
In this April 24, 2007, file photo, an exhibit about a 1962 prison escape made famous in the movie, "Escape from Alcatraz," is displayed in the museum store on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco.   (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)
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(Newser) – Three inmates who famously escaped from Alcatraz prison in 1962 may not be so dead after all. In fact, new evidence that they survived has spawned a History Channel special and inspired a retired US marshal to revive the investigation, the New York Post reports. "This is absolutely the best actionable lead we’ve had," says the ex-marshal, Art Roderick. To recap, three Alcatraz inmates—Frank Morris along with brothers John and Clarence Anglin—escaped by chiseling a hole into a prison wall and jumping into the cold San Francisco Bay, with homemade paddles and a raft made from raincoats. Never found, they were presumed dead. But two nephews of the Anglins have produced evidence to the contrary:

  • They have Christmas cards signed in the names of John and Clarence Anglin, and Roderick matched the handwriting. But the cards are neither stamped nor dated.
  • A photo that will be seen on the show, Alcatraz: Search for the Truth, "proves the Anglins may have been alive in the 1970s," says the Post.
  • And DNA from the dug-up remains of another Anglin brother, Alfred, does not genetically match a set of bones found on a shore near San Francisco in 1963.
  • In a letter, former Boston mobster Whitey Bulger says he met the three men in Alcatraz and gave them advice about navigating currents in the bay. "He taught them that when you disappear, you have to cut all ties," says one of the nephews, Ken Widner. "He told me, 'These brothers undoubtedly had done exactly what I told them to do.'"
Sadly, Variety didn't think much of the History Channel special, calling it "overproduced, from the pounding music to the dramatic recreations." (A study found that the inmates might have survived if they plunged into the water between 11pm and midnight.)