U.S. marshals still hunt Alcatraz escape artists, 50 years later
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Fifty years after three inmates used spoons to burrow out of Alcatraz Island’s federal prison and escape on a raft made of raincoats, their relatives visited the scene of America’s most famous jail break and said they were sure the convicts survived.
Frank Morris and brothers Clarence and John Anglin, all serving time for bank robbery, vanished from the prison in San Francisco Bay on the night of June 11, 1962.
Although many historians believe they perished in the frigid, treacherous currents surrounding the maximum-security island prison, their bodies were never found and some believe they made it to freedom.
“I always believed they made it, and I haven’t changed my mind yet,” Clarence and John Anglin’s sister, Marie Anglin Widner, said on Monday during a press conference at the prison.
Widner, 76, believes her brothers attended their mother’s 1973 funeral dressed as women. The FBI definitely attended.
“If (the authorities) thought they were dead, why keep looking for them?” her son, Dave Anglin, said, adding that his uncles were good swimmers who “used to break the ice in Lake Michigan.”
The trio’s Houdini-like breakout from the supposedly escape-proof prison spurred the biggest manhunt since the kidnapping of aviator Charles Lindbergh’s baby in 1932, and inspired the 1979 Hollywood film “Escape from Alcatraz,” starring Clint Eastwood.
Half a century later, the search for clues about the fate of the men continues. Authorities have chased thousands of leads in nearly every state in the union, U.S. Marshal Michael Dyke said.
Dyke, a history buff who has been looking for the escapees since 2003, still gets tips about the case and said he pursues them all.
He told Reuters he would like to check the DNA of a set of bones that washed ashore at nearby Point Reyes National Seashore in 1963 to see if they could be one of the escapees.
He asked the Anglins’ relatives for DNA samples, but so far they have refused, he said. Morris has no known relatives.
Asked what he would say to the escapees if he found them, Dyke said he would tell them, “I’m glad you stayed out on the road for as long as you did, but you have to go to jail now.”