Saturday 15 December 2018

Alcatraz escape mystery deepens after discovery of letter signed by fugitive

Prison mug shots of convicts Frank Morris, from left, Clarence and John Anglin in both their younger and older years Photo: Reuters
Prison mug shots of convicts Frank Morris, from left, Clarence and John Anglin in both their younger and older years Photo: Reuters

Chris Bayne

It is one of America's most enduring mysteries, troubling investigators for decades and inspiring Hollywood cinema.

Now a letter has emerged which appears to shed light on the fate of three prisoners who escaped from Alcatraz in 1962.

Authorities have never determined whether brothers John and Clarence Anglin and fellow inmate Frank Morris survived the daring jail break.

The FBI closed its case in 1979, concluding the men were unlikely to have survived the 1.5-mile journey across San Francisco Bay’s frigid waters from the island prison to the mainland.

But no conclusive evidence of the prisoners’ deaths has ever been found, and the US Marshals Service continues to investigate their disappearance to this day.

A letter has now come to light that claims the trio of bank robbers survived their perilous escape and lived into old age.

“My name is John Anglin,” the handwritten missive begins. “I escape from Alcatraz in June 1962... Yes we all made it that night, but barely!”

Anglin’s cell is now a highlight for tourists, who can see the ventilation shaft he squeezed through with his fellow escapees before they floated off from Alcatraz in raft made of raincoats inflated with a concertina. They had spent six months beforehand carving holes with sharpened spoons and stolen saws to crawl into a network of pipes and plumbing so they could evade guards.

The fugitives were never seen again and the FBI said they were likely to have drowned.

However, according to the letter, Morris lived until 2005 and Clarence Anglin died in 2008.

The letter was sent to San Francisco Police Department in 2013 but was not publicly disclosed by the force. The document has come to light five years later after it was obtained by local TV station KPIX 5.

The letter’s writer says he spent years living in Seattle following his escape before moving to North Dakota and Southern California.

He says he is now “83 years old and in bad shape” and tries to strike a bargain with police.

“I have cancer,” the letter reads. “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.”

Independent News Service

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