The Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary or United States Penitentiary, Alcatraz Prison, opened in 1934 was a maximum-security prison in the USA. The Alcatraz prison was nicknamed “The Rock” as it sits on 22 acres of Island and is 1.25 miles away from the land, it gained the reputation of being “Inescapable” as it was surrounded by miles of sea, and the ice-cold water would guarantee that nobody can ever escape.”

Andy Duferee the man who crawled through 500 yards of shit and came out clean the other end.”, Before the infamous Alcatraz prison escape, there have been 12 attempts, all resulted in being recaptured, shot, or having drowned in the San Francisco Bay, in 1962, July, 11 Anglin brothers and Morris successfully planned an escape from the Alcatraz prison but did they reach the land or drown in the sea?

Prison in the middle of Pacific.
Alcatraz Island

The Escape Artists of Alcatraz Prison

In 1962, Frank Morris, Anglin brothers(John and Clarence), and Allen West planned to escape the Alcatraz Prison but Allen was unable to meet them at the time of escape and was left out and because of this we have so much information about the Alcatraz prison escape, the plan, 50 raincoats, a concertina, spoons, and 6 months of patience which lead to the escape.

Frank Morris: Morris was the leader of the group, and with an IQ of 133, morris was considered among the top 2% of intelligent people, supposedly in his mid-30s at the time of escape, in and out of prisons when he was just 13 years old and was in Alcatraz Prison for bank robbery.

Anglin Brothers: John and Clarence were inseparable as kids, both of them enjoyed swimming in the lake of Michigan, which helped them later, they were in Alcatraz Prison for robbing a bank together.

All of them were placed in cell blocks adjacent to each other in cell block B in Alcatraz Prison.

Prison Cell Blocks

How did they escape?

To escape from the Alcatraz prison, they not only have to escape the prison walls but they needed to buy some time so they can get ahead and guards won’t be able to catch them.

So they planned to make dummy heads which they will sneak into their bed, in case one of them was not around when the guard would go buy and this act will probably buy them some time to sneak and get to the land of San Fransisco.


They managed to make dummy heads out of soap, concrete powder, and stolen paint. To make the dummies more realistic, Clarance who worked as a barber swiped some hair to paste on dummies head.

Dummies head played a vital role in Alcatraz prison escape.
Dummy heads (via FBI)

After putting dummies into their beds they went to work on busting out of cells, every cell has 5- inch by 9 and a half inch ventilation grates and luckily for them the prison was under repair and this helped them in knowing that the wall surrounding the grates were less than 6 inches thick making it possible for each man to dig the hole to fit through.

Looks easy, doesn’t it? but without any weapons just using stolen spoons form kitchen a drill made from the vacuum cleaner. After making holes they used to cover it up with cardboard covers and their musical instruments.

These holes lead them to utility corridors located directly below their cells that was left unguarded, from there they were able to climb to their secret landing area where they were given permissions to work under maintenance.

Little did everyone knew that this little landing area will be the major part of their plan, painting the dummies, making life preservers, other items such as 6×14 rubber raft all made from prison-issued raincoats.

Total of 50 raincoats was used to make the raft and sewing them together using sewing machines in the clothing or glove shops and with genius brains, on their side, they even vulcanized the rubber from steams through steam pipes,

The raft was inflated using a concertina which Morris generally used to play.

Morris's cell block after theAlcatraz prison escape.
Morris’s cell block. via Wikimedia

West was not able to make it to the landing area because he was unable to break through the ventilation grate and as a consequence west was left behind.

West was fully cooperative with the investigation and as such he was not charged for his attempt but was later transferred to another prison when Alcatraz prison was closed, where his inmate killed him in 1972

Others were, however, able to climb to the top through the landing area they worked in and came down using a pipe and jumped the 15 ft wall without getting noticed.

After getting out of Alcatraz prison they were faced with the ice-cold sea, the plan was to sail to Angel Island first and then sail again to the land of San Fransisco, where they would steal a car as well as clothing as told by Allen West who was left being in the escape.

The FBI, CoastGuard, and Bureau of Prison Authorities joined the wide-scale search. What happened later to those men were still a mystery, let’s look at the theories over time.

Theory 1: They drowned

The FBI and coast guards combed the area and found several items that belonged to them such as a sealed plastic bag that contained letters and addresses, a paddle, a couple of life jackets.

Later found pieces of raft believed to be from the raincoats and life jackets were also recovered made form the same material.

FBI put the view that they believed that man did not survive the attempt to escape Alcatraz Prison. Investigators also pulled the view that high tides would make it impossible to safely get to the shore, rather they would have been swept and killed in the ocean.

Some days later there were reports of a body being spotted, a report came from a Norwegian shipping freighter, the body was wearing a blue coat as claimed by them but sadly the body was not recovered.

According to the plan told by West, That after reaching to the mainland they would steal a car and some clothes as well, but there were no stolen cars nor reports of any robbery and this leads them to believe that escapees did not make it to the shore.

After searching for answers for almost 17 years, the FBI decided to close the file, their final conclusion was that men had drowned.


Theory 2: They survived and started again

According to tide experts, there was a window for the men to have a chance for survival, If left around midnight then there was not such a dangerous situation to face.

Further evidence that they left around midnight comes from the guards when they heard a loud sound when the escapees opened air vent cover being pushed off the room around 10:30 P.M.

Despite the fact that officials believed that they drowned, a number of family members keep coming forward and insisted that the men survived that night as they got letters afterward. The family reported receiving Christmas cards off the brothers, three of which had prison marking on them while rest did not.

A more popular theory is that they traveled to Brazil, as nephews of Anglin Brothers provided photographs that they believe to be their uncles.

FBI has denied the honesty of the claims and states that it is unlikely that men in the photograph are Angelin Brothers.

Photo believed to be of Anglin Brothers taken 13 years after disappearance (WIKIMEDIA COMMON)

Letter in 2013

The San Fransisco police department received a letter in 2013 claiming to be John Anglin, in the letter author writes, “My name is John Anglin, I escape[d] from Alcatraz in 1962 with my brother Clarence and Frank Morris. I’m 83 years old now and in bad shape. I have cancer. Yes, we all made that night but barely!”

The letter also states that Morris and Clarence also passed away in 2008 and 2011 respectively, he also offers to turn himself to the authorities but in exchange, he wants medial treatment and minimal sentence, the authorities would need to make it announce on tv, the author states that “I will write back to let you know exactly where I am. This is no joke…”

FBI however, did call this hoax and decided not to act on it. The results of handwriting analysis, fingerprinting, and DNA tests are still inconclusive.

Now that you’ve read about the Alcatraz Prison escape, read about Sodder Children’s disappearance, 5 out of the 9 children disappeared in the night while the house burned in flames.


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