Infamous Crimes - Escape From Alcatraz - Saul Roth

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By Saul Roth

On the night of June 11, 1962, three prisoners, John Anglin, Clarence Anglin, and Frank Morris, escaped from the maximum security prison at Alcatraz. It remains one of the most daring, innovative, and successful escapes in all of American history. The trio managed to break out using a makeshift raft made out of rain coats and leave an indelible mark on history.

Alcatraz, also known as “The Rock,” was situated 1.5 miles offshore from San Francisco Bay. It served as a federal penitentiary from 1934-1963 and housed some of the United States’ most dangerous, violent, and notorious criminals, such as Al Capone, the Birdman of Alcatraz, and the Anglin brothers. These inmates had been convicted of serious offenses and were sent to Alcatraz for additional punishment due to their inability to adhere to prison discipline. In fact, the only other two prisons of the same caliber at the time were located in Atlanta and Leavenworth, Kansas.

For the most part, Alcatraz inmates kept to themselves and stayed inside the prison’s walls. However, John and Clarence Anglin, along with Frank Morris, decided to take action. The plan began many months before the escape, but the key element was hatched by Morris. He convinced the brothers to join forces in order to make a real attempt at freedom. They quickly went to work, meticulously chiseling away at the concrete walls of their cells to create a passageway to the outside. Over the course of six months they dug over the walls with steel spoons, stole bits of brass from the prison plumbing system, and flattened the stolen spoons into tiny saw blades.

Using these tools, the men eventually managed to open up an opening that was large enough for a man to squeeze through. With the opening complete, Morris then constructed an inflatable raft out of the stolen raincoats. He also constructed a makeshift propeller using leftover scrap metal and other materials.

At around 10 pm on June 11, 1962, the trio assembled their things and left from their cells. First, they navigated their way through the tunnels and then climbed up to the roof, where they used the makeshift raft. The prisoners then paddled the raft out into the cold night’s air heading towards freedom. After several hours, they disappeared and were never seen or heard from again.

News of the escape sparked a massive manhunt. The FBI sent out search teams, aircrafts, and warships to try and locate the escapees. But ultimately, they found nothing. To this day, no one knows what happened to the three men. Rumors persist that they survived and are living somewhere in South America or Mexico, but no substantial evidence has ever been found to corroborate these reports.

The real story of the 1962 escape from Alcatraz is one that stands out in the annals of true crime as a remarkable testament to human ingenuity and perseverance. The trio managed to evade detection for over six months and carry out their plan against numerous odds. While their whereabouts remain unknown, the legacy of the daring escape will live on.