The escapees of Alcatraz

The Escape from Alcatraz

Anthony Bourdain:

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”

50 years on – the hunt for the three escapees continues.

Half a century after the illustrious escape, US Marshall Michael Dyke is still trying to catch up. On June 11th 1962 the three men, Clarence Anglin, John William Anglin and Frank Lee Morris escaped from Alcatraz Prison.

The escapees of Alcatraz

The prison was considered inescapable due to the safety measures on the island itself and also to the cold water and the strong currents of the bay surrounding it. The escape itself is legendary and has been made into the major movie Escape, starring Clint Eastwood as Fran Lee Morris.

The three men had planned the escape for more than 18 months and had with primitive tools managed to carve their way through the 20 centimeter concrete wall. They crawled out through an airshaft and climbed to the roof of the building. They had placed dolls on their beds to delay discovery of the escape.

Map of Alcatraz
Map of Alcatraz

Reaching the shore they swam out using a raft made of stolen raincoats. It is said that they learned how to build one in the do-it-yourself section of Popular Mechanics Magazine.

Pieces of the raft was later found on another island in the bay. That is also where all traces of the men ends. To this day, no one knows if they succeeded or were drowned

The FBI searched for them until 1979 and since then US Marshal Michael Dykes has been the only one still working on the case

On average, two out of three bodies drowned in the San Francisco Bay are recovered, which means that two of the bodies should have turned up. So far none has been found. Dykes himself says that he thinks that it is a fair chance that they made it. We shall maybe never get to know what happened to them, The oldest, Frank Morris would now have reached the age of 86 if he survived.

All in all 36 prisoners tried to escape from Alcatraz during its 29 years history as a prison; 23 were recaptured, 6 were shot dead two drowned and 5 are not accounted for and are presumed drowned (including the Anglin brothers and Frank Lee Morris).

 Back to the Alcatraz Page


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