Letter Allegedly Written by Alcatraz Escapee John Anglin Brings Case Back Into Spotlight

A recently uncovered letter by someone claiming to be one of the men who escaped from Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary in 1962 has brought the infamous case back into the national spotlight and under the FBI’s focus, according to reports.

Brothers John and Clarence Anglin and Frank Morris did the unthinkable when they squeezed through the vents of the cells and disappeared from what was regarded as the most secure federal prison in the U.S. on June 11, 1962.

The convicted bank robbers were never found and their vanishing act has become the stuff of legend, but much debate has been made over whether they could have survived the freezing and rough waters of the San Francisco Bay.

The debate has once again been reignited with the recent discovery of a letter purported to have been written by one of the Anglin brothers. 

“My name is John Anglin,” the letter, which was provided to KPIX 5 by an unnamed source, began. “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 letter’s author claims that after escaping the prison, he lived in Seattle before moving on to North Dakota and eventually settling in Southern California.   

The writer also claimed Morris died in 2008 and Clarence Anglin died in 2011. 

“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,” the letter says. “This is no joke…”

If John Anglin were alive today, he would be 86.

According to KPIX 5, the FBI first learned of the letter after it was sent to the San Francisco Police Department’s Richmond station in 2013.

The FBI, which closed its case on the Alcatraz escape on Dec. 31, 1979, makes no mention on its website of the case potentially being reopened and the bureau did not immediately return InsideEdition.com’s request for comment. 

The FBI lab examined the letter’s handwriting for fingerprints and DNA, but the results were inconclusive, the U.S. Marshals Service told KPIX 5, saying they consider the lead has no merit.

“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,” the U.S. Marshals Service said in a statement to the television station. 

The Anglin brothers and Morris spent months planning their escape and used a homemade drill fashioned from a broken vacuum cleaner motor to loosen the air vents at the backs of their cells, the FBI said. 

After making it through the vents, the men climbed pipes and plumbing to get to the prison roof and then slid down the smokestack to the ground below, officials said. 

From there, they shoved off in a makeshift raft made from more than 50 raincoats.

Prison guards found dummy heads made of plaster, paint and human hair in the cells the next morning.

Until the discovery of the letter, all three were presumed dead, having drowned in the waters of the frigid bay.

The daring escape was immortalized in the 1979 film Escape From Alcatraz, which starred Fred Ward as John Anglin, Jack Thibeau as Clarence Anglin and Clint Eastwood as Frank Morris.


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