After 50 Years, U.S. Marshals Continue Hunt for Alcatraz Prison Escapees

Clarence Anglin

John Anglin

Frank Morris

WASHINGTON – Fifty years after their escape from U.S. Penitentiary Alcatraz on June 11, 1962, the U.S. Marshals Service remains diligent in the manhunt for Frank Morris and brothers Clarence and John Anglin. They are the only men to escape from Alcatraz Island in San Francisco who remain unaccounted for.

The elaborate escape plan was the result of more than one year of planning and included the design of a life raft and life preservers fashioned from more than 50 raincoats, the fabrication of lifelike dummies to ruse guards on night bed checks and enlarged ventilation holes in their cell walls, which they used spoons to create and concealed with cardboard replicas of vent covers.

On the night of June 11, 1962, the three escaped through the vents and made their way to the northeast part of the island, where they inflated the makeshift raft and three life preservers and slipped into the water. Varied reports stated that the inmates either drowned or made their escape via nearby Angel Island. A fourth inmate, Allen West, was involved in planning the escape, but he never made it out of his prison cell. The known details of the escape were provided by West during several interviews.

The Marshals Service adopted the case from the FBI in 1979. Since that time, countless deputy U.S. marshals have worked the case and investigated thousands of leads in almost every state in the country and a few foreign countries. They used media venues such as the TV show America’s Most Wanted to generate tips and additional investigative information. In a 1993 interview with that program, U.S. Marshals Service Acting Director John Twomey said, “We know they were young and vigorous, that they had the physical ability to survive and that they had a well-thought-out scheme.”

The possibility of survival steered investigators to unusual and detailed leads to suspected whereabouts of the escapees. One example occurred in 2010, when an unmarked grave, claimed to be that of an escapee, was exhumed but failed to offer positive identification. The 1962 escape remains one of the best known unsolved crimes in American history. “No matter where the leads take us, or how many man hours are spent on this historic case, the Marshals Service will continue to investigate to the fullest extent possible,” said David Harlow, assistant director, U.S. Marshals Investigative Operations Division.

According to the Marshals, they will continue to pursue the escapees until they are either arrested, positively determined to be deceased or reach the age of 99. “The ongoing U.S. Marshals investigation of the 1962 escape from Alcatraz federal prison serves as a warning to fugitives that regardless of time, we will continue to look for you and bring you to justice,” said U.S. Marshal Don O’Keefe of the Northern District of California. If the inmates survived the escape and are alive today, Frank Morris would be 85 years old, Clarence Anglin would be 81 and John Anglin would be 82.

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  1. tricky1963 says:

    What a complete waste of time

  2. Cheecko says:

    So why is there no description of the images in the article? It is confusing and misleading to not disclaim that they are not photos of the escapees. The images would have to be an idealized image of the men based on actual photos as they were all in their mid to early 30’s at the time they disappeared.

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