WASHINGTON, DC – It is one of the most famous escapes in the history of U.S. prisons, and even though the case has long since gone cold, the U.S. Marshals Service continues to search for three inmates escaped from Alcatraz in 1962.
Monday marked the 50th anniversary of the only successful escape from Alcatraz. The facility was closed down in 1963 and is now a world-famous tourist attraction.
No traces were ever found of Frank Morris and brothers Clarence Anglin and John Anglin who successfully busted out of “The Rock” with a rowboat made of raincoats.
Getting off the island was one thing, but whether they made it across the difficult waters of the San Francisco Bay at night is quite another. The question has been the subject of speculation for a half century.
No trace of the three was ever found. They remain unaccounted for.
“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.
The U.S. Marshals on Monday released age-enhanced composites of the three men in the event that they are still alive. Frank Morris would be 85 years old, Clarence Anglin would be 81 and John Anglin would be 82.
The escape since 1962 has become the stuff of legend.
Clint Eastwood played Morris in the 1979 movie “Escape from Alcatraz.”
And Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman of the Discovery Channel program “Mythbusters” determined a successful escape was certainly plausible. In 2003, they recreated the escape, right down to the raincoat rowboat and were able to navigate across the Bay from Alcatraz to Marin Island.
The U.S. Marshal Service took over the lead in the investigation from the FBI in 1979. Officials said that since that time, 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. The agency has also from time to time reached for through the media.
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 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 Marshals intend to continue pursuing 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
The U.S. Marshals have a long history of successfully tracking, locating and apprehending prison escapees. In August 2011, Frederick Barrett, a convicted murderer wanted in Florida for escape, was apprehended after 32 years on the lam. He was found hiding in a remote cabin in the mountains of Colorado.