Escape from Alcatraz, but did anyone make it?

Frank Morris, John and Clarence Anglin are claimed to have the unique distinction of being the only people to ever escape from the Alcatraz prison, but there were more. Did any of them survive or are they now just consigned to legend and Pattaya?
By: John Edwards
 
 
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Feb. 26, 2011 - PRLog -- In 1963, J. Campbell Bruce published "Escape from Alcatraz", which told the story of Frank Morris and the Anglin brothers. Later, in 1979, a thriller, dramatising their escape from the maximum security prison on Alcatraz Island, directed by Don Siegel, starring Clint Eastwood as Frank Morris and Patrick McGoohan as the vindictive warden, was released.

According to various reports, Morris and the Anglin brothers dug through the walls of their cells with spoons, made papier-mâché dummies as decoys, and constructed a raft out of raincoats to escape across San Francisco Bay. They were never seen again.

Morris was born in New York City and was convicted of his first crime at the age of 13. By his late teens he had been arrested for a multitude of crimes, ranging from possession of narcotics to armed robbery. He is said to have had an exceptionally high IQ of 133.

Morris, prisoner #AZ1441, was sent to Alcatraz on 3rd January 1960, where he started to devise his escape upon arrival. The escape plans were carefully planned over a period of two years.

If there was ever an inmate who was destined to escape from Alcatraz, it was Frank Lee Morris, the brilliant mastermind behind one of the most daring prison escapes in history. His accomplices, the Anglin brothers, were also serving sentences at Alcatraz for bank robbery.

The plan was highly complex and involved the design of lifelike dummies, water rafts and life preservers. The dummies were decorated with flesh-tone paint from prison art kits, and human hair from the barbershop; the heads were crude but lifelike, and were constructed from a homemade cement powder. They also obtained a variety of tools to dig with. By May 1962, Morris and the Anglins and had dug through the cell's vent holes.

On the night of 11th June 1962, the three inmates escaped through the vents and into the utility corridor. They then proceeded on to the roof and from there down to the bay. Here they boarded the makeshift raft and disappeared into the night.

The next morning, prison officers found the dummies lying in their place. The FBI conducted an extensive manhunt, but to no avail. Parts of the raft and life preservers were later found in the bay.

In 1934 Alcatraz was converted into a Federal prison. This old military prison was upgraded with the latest "escape-proof" safeguards. The authorities assumed that the treacherous waters of the San Francisco bay would be a major obstacle in any escape attempt. It was presumed that escape was impossible.

But, published on 15th June 1962 in the San Francisco Chronicle, the escaped convicts were said to have been missing at the 7:15am headcount and the guards found life-like dummies in their prison cots. They also found that they had climbed utility pipes to the top of the three-tier cell block and then reached the roof by bending a steel bar in the 14-inch shaft of an air condition vent.

The Chronicle also mentions that broken bushes and other signs show "almost the precise trail" the men took to the water's edge on the north side of the island after they shimmied down a kitchen vent pipe form the roof of the main prison structure.

Fred T. Wilkinson, assistant director of Federal Prisons, who flew from Washington when the break was discovered, a former warden at the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary, knew all four convicts before they were transferred to Alcatraz, and said he was satisfied the plotters had no outside help.

Wilkinson also said he was certain the three convicts had drowned in the bay: "It would take an athlete to make such a swim. The only swimming these fellows were accustomed to was in the little old creeks in the swamps of Florida and Louisiana."

A search by 200 soldiers turned up nothing to indicate that Morris and the Anglins had ever reached its shores. They were presumed dead (see Alcatraz Escape Newsreel at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHPA1Li1iUA&feature=related).



The newsreel talks about it being the only successful breakout from Alcatraz prison, but the San Francisco Chronicle also reported that Theodore "Ted" Cole and Ralph Roe took part in the second documented escape attempt from Alcatraz in 1937.

Cole and Roe, both convicted bank robbers in Oklahoma, were incarcerated in high-security Leavenworth Prison, then transferred to higher-security Alcatraz in 1936. Again, officials concluded they perished in the attempt. But the same newspaper reported four years later that they were alive and well, and living in South America.

Then, 25 years later to the day after Cole and Roe escaped, John Paul Scott, who was convicted of bank robbery and the possession of unregistered firearms and sentenced to 30 years in prison, swam from the island to Fort Point, the southern end of the Golden Gate Bridge. He was said to have been so exhausted, police apprehended him within minutes of his landfall. He was the only inmate of Alcatraz to conclusively reach the San Francisco shore by swimming.

According to other reports, Morris and the Anglins left plenty of traces that they didn't make it: a wallet containing money and important phone numbers belonging to one of the Anglin brothers was found on a beach. Surveillance of the relatives and friends of the missing prisoners never turned up any contact. There was also a Coast Guard report of three bodies in some kind of uniform being seen by a fisherman off Bolinas.

So, did any of them successfully escape and live free lives? Their families says they made it, the authorities say they didn't. But there has never been any evidence found to suggest that they did actually perish in the waters. The authorities say there is no way anyone would be able to swim in the icy waters that surround Alcatraz.

No one will ever really know whether any of these infamous lawbreakers made it out alive or if they are now just consigned to legend, Hollywood and a spectacularly-designed go-go bar in Pattaya, Thailand.

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Alcatraz GoGo, Pattaya's most provocative GoGo bar and nightclub, is located the heart of Walking Street and has been designed with a unique prison theme. http://www.alcatrazpattayagogo.com
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