Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary was one of the most formidable prison holdings of its time. The desolateness, the isolation, the very air of the place was enough to give it the hostile environment it was known for. At its prime, Alcatraz was one of the top security prisons in the entire world. Situated on a lonely island off San Francisco, it was rightly termed as “The Rock” and was used to hold prisoners during the Civil War. Eventually, in 1934, the prison was refortified and used for holding people other than only war criminals.
Despite all the fortification and extensive measures that were taken, there were always a lot of escape attempts there. From 1934 till when the prison was shut down, there were 36 inmates who had tried to escape 14 different times. And 13 out of those attempts had failed as the escapees got caught or didn’t survive the escapade.
One particular attempt however remains a mystery to everyone to this day. It was the famous Alcatraz prison escape by the Anglin brothers and Frank Morris.
The Famous Alcatraz Prison Escape
On June 12, 1962, Frank Morris, John Anglin, and Clarence Anglin had hoodwinked the Alcatraz facility and managed to escape successfully. And this is how they did it.
The trio had begun forming their plans six months prior to their escape from Alcatraz when one of them came across some old worn-out saw blades. With the saw blades and a makeshift drill made from a vacuum cleaner, they started widening the air vents from the back of their cells.
Slowly and painfully, they scraped with these crude tools to the point that an entire section of the wall had come off the vents were wider. After finishing, they used to conceal the holes with cardboard scraps. Behind the cells, there was an unguarded corridor that made its way straight to the roof of the cellblock.
There, they set up a secret workshop of their own where they built anything they could out of whatever they collected. They began making a periscope so one could keep watch while the other two worked. After months of working, they had successfully made a makeshift raft out of raincoats, wooden paddles, a tool to inflate the raft, and life vests for all of them. Alongside this, they were also searching for an escape route to get out of the building. So, using a network of pipes, they climbed to the very top of the building and used the ventilator shaft to escape.
A Daring Plan Shrouded in Mystery
On the evening of June 11, they were all set. The three removed their respective ventilator grills, collected all their gear, and made their way up the ventilation shaft. Once on the prison roof, they made their way to the kitchens in the prison, got down the smokestack, and ended up at the rear end of the cell house. Now they just made their way up to the northeast shore of the island where they launched their raft and went on their way.
What happened to the three after that was never found out. Whether they made it to the mainland shore safely or got carried away by the waves, no one ever came to know. The case was transferred from the FBI to the U.S. Marshals Service on December 31, 1979, which continues to investigate the possibility of the trio still being alive even though it sounds very unlikely.
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