Mysterious Letter Re-Opens Case Of Alcatraz Prison Break

Until its closure in 1963, the island prison of Alcatraz was considered impossible to escape. Out of 36 inmates who attempted the feat, nearly all were captured or killed. The infamous escape of three men remained a mystery. Until now...

Welcome To The Rock

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In the 1930s, Alcatraz was the ultimate maximum security prison. It was even used during the American Civil War to hold prisoners. The prison housed such infamous criminals as gangster Al Capone and the infamous "Birdman of Alcatraz." The near-freezing temperatures of the surrounding bay made it almost impossible to escape, but that didn't stop some inmates from trying.

A Natural Maximum Security Prison

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Nicknamed "The Rock," Alcatraz was the last place any convicted felon wanted to spend their incarceration. The island prison was set right in the middle of the San Francisco Bay. Surrounded by rough and frigid waters, those inmates who attempted to escape Alcatraz typically met with the same ignoble fate.

Bordered By The Bay

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During the warmest months, the San Francisco Bay averages around 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Even though the human body can survive such temperatures, the rough waters and rip tides are no match for humans. There were 14 different escape attempts while Alcatraz was open. Most of those attempts ended the same way.

The First Escape Attempt

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The first attempt in 1936 involved inmate Joe Bowers who was working as a trash incinerator. He started to climb the perimeter fence at the end of the island. A correctional officer stationed in a guard tower gave him fair warning to climb back down. Bowers refused, was shot, and fell to his death. Inmates made it a little further during the second attempt.

Breaking Out And Making It To The Bay

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In December 1937, Theodore Cole and Ralph Roe somehow made it through the iron bars of their cell. A terrible storm was raging outside and the bay's currents were stronger than ever. The escapees made it to the bay and were believed to have been swept out to sea. The two were missing and presumed dead. Then, 25 years later, three men made it further than anyone up until that point.

The Closest Escape Attempt

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On June 11, 1962, brothers John and Clarence Anglin, along with fellow inmate Frank Morris, devised an intricate escape plan. Using homemade drills, false walls, and the heads of dummies, the three men exited their cells with no problem. They made it to the roof before climbing down a drainpipe and to the water where they boarded a homemade raft. The three were presumed dead until 2013.