The Incredible Alcatraz Prison Break
This week on BuzzFeed and saw we covered the thrilling escape from the famed Alcatraz, prison the inmates who pulled this off did so by executing, an ingenious, and daring, plan and who doesn't love a good Prison Break right I do, will there be tunnels, uh. You. Could say there was a tunnel I guess, if you were sitting in a Cell for a long time you would be able to come up with pretty, cool things to escape that, being said the, things that they did come up with I was pressed by but I'm easily impressed well I guess tell your story okay yeah. Formerly. A military, base Alcatraz. Island opened. As a federal maximum-security prison. In 1934. The. Prison was nicknamed, The Rock due, to the fact that the prison sits on a 22 acre island, about a mile and a quarter away from, the city of San Francisco, because. Of this the prison gained a reputation as, being, inescapable. With, water surrounding, the prison have ring around 48, degrees Fahrenheit, 254, degrees Fahrenheit. All year. Along, with formidable currents. Pulling, strongly, out to sea, leading up to low tide San. Francisco is very cool it's very cold and I have very delicate Southern, California, skin the coldest, winter. Of my life was a summer in San Francisco. Okay. I thought. You're gonna go into your typical. Midwestern. People no winter. And cold people. Do no I'll tell you oh Jesus okay, no it's fine we don't have to go snow I'm, very happy for you what a feather in all your caps mm-hmm so shall, we move on if. You must great as, time went on the, prison would fall into disrepair, and the budget to fix things was, limited, this, would become an important. Factor, in the inmates escape, so, without further ado let's. Meet the, escaped crew first, up we have the Anglin brothers John. William Angwin and his younger brother Clarence. Anglin both, in their early 30s at the time of the escape the, brothers were serving time for robbing, a bank together I wouldn't, mind being in a jail.
Cell With my bro yeah the thing is like being in prison obviously, not ideal yeah but you got your bro there with you and the only word next door to each other that's very funny that's very fun yeah, that's. A big bonding I wonder if one, of them got the letter like. Ooh where. You going, it's. Going to Alcatraz, he was like me to jump. Up it they. Got accepted to college together next, we have Frank Morris in his mid thirties at the time of the escape who, had been abandoned, as a young child put, in foster care and run away and was, then in and out of Prisons since he was just 13 years old, he, was also serving time for a bank robbery the, final member of the crew is Ellen West aged 33, at the time of the escape West. Began serving time by the age of 14, and bounced, around various, federal prisons, our crew of escapees, established, let's jump into the inception of the escape it. Said that West first approached Morris with a plan to escape in early 1960. West, apparently, knew of a ventilator cover above cellblock, B that, might not be sealed over with concrete, as some of the other vents had been if true, this, could provide them with a way to get onto the roof of the prison from the inside, Wes. Also began working with the cell house maintenance, crew which gave him insight, into the building structure layout, and weaknesses. By, September, 1961. The, Anglin, brothers Morris. And West all had, requested, moves to cells that were close to each other in Cell Block B directly. Under the unsecured, vent cover all, sound, moves were approved, this. Goes back to my thinking that prison may be back then or maybe in this particular, prison. Didn't, seem so bad you, just put in a request and, they're like oh you want to move. I. Mean, the thought is like this, is I should have just asked to leave I think, this is maybe a lesson, in humility for this prison the prison guards and the prison warden you know obviously. This prison has been thought of as this, fortress of security, it's, thought of as unescapable, it's, surrounded by water oh what's, the worst element, of hubris yeah what's. The worst they're gonna do do what you want it doesn't matter because you're never gonna escape here in terms. Of who planned what the details are a bit murky but, one thing is for sure the. Plan that the four men would execute was, undoubtedly, bold, and ingenious, that. Being said. Let's break down the. Plan starting. With phase one, deception. With. Alcatraz, it wasn't just about escaping, the prison walls as it was also about making it back to the mainland, and avoiding, capture in that process in, order, to prevent that the men knew they needed a head start to, accomplish, this the men created painted, dummy heads made, from a plaster like mix of soap, concrete. And other materials, and complete. With, human hair they laid the heads in their beds to fool the guards sure. Enough on June 12 on the morning following the escape when, the 7:00 a.m. bell went off to wake the prisoners, guards, discovered, that the escapees, appeared, to still be asleep in their beds, it wasn't, until one guard reached into Morris's, cell and pushed the head only for it to roll away and strike, the ground that, the guards realized, something. Was wrong to. This day the, dummy head that struck the ground still, has the damage that resulted, from this fall it's. Unknown, who came up with the idea to create dummy, heads, however, Clarence. Worked as a barber, and had access to human hair trimmings either, way phase one deception, was, a success, if I were that guard and I. Reached. Into that bed Oh wake. Up sir. You're. Missing or so you know it's head rolls out yeah yeah first, I'd scream I go, ha I don't know my own strength I just dam, there and go oh. They. Did it very good very good good I would be angry if the craftsmanship, weren't, so, good it's varied as I pick it up and I see the human hair I'm thinking well they really pulled out all the stops here I say out of fool this brings us to phase 2, breakout. After, laying, the dummies in their beds the men went to work on busting, out of their cells all four of the men's cells had five inch by nine and a half inch ventilation. Grates in the back of their cells perhaps. Due to his time on maintenance Wes may have known that the wall surrounding the Great was less than six inches thick making, it possible for each man to expand, the hole in their cell to fit through four, months each of the escapees.
Had Drilled small, closely-spaced. Holes around the cover of the ventilation, grades for. This they, used crude, handmade, tools like, spoons stolen, from the kitchen and a, drill, made from a vacuum cleaner motor, these. Holes made it possible for them to remove the entire small, section, of the wall around the air vents which they then kept covered up with their musical, instruments and with big covers, made of cardboard I'm. Also not that handy so retrofitting, a you know a vacuum. Motor turning it into a drill I don't know if I'd be able to think of that I don't know I don't know so they're essentially just perforating. It yeah, they're just they're priming it by making little holes they're making the the wall a little bit weaker, so that they could just push through this wall and this is out of view of the so. It's not out of view but, the. This, prison allowed, an. Hour called hack I think was called happy hour where the, inmates, wickets margaritas, knowing is margaritas but the the, inmates who played musical. Instruments were allowed to play, their instruments, during this hour what is this prison. Every. Talks oh the, rock you don't want to go to the rock it sounds. Like a happy, hour at the rock. It. Sounds like the prison from Paddington, - don't forget your loot yeah, under, the cover of all this shitty music playing they, were probably able to do some drilling these holes allowed, them to crawl through to a utility, corridor, located. Directly behind their cells that was typically left unguarded, from. There they were able to climb up to a hidden landing, area directly, above their cell block where, they had been working in secret for several, months some. Or all of the escapees, had been given permission at, some point to do maintenance work on this, landing, area in fact, to, this day you, can still see where West actually completed. Part of the painting job apparently. West. Had even convinced, the guards to allow him to hang blankets, that concealed, his work because, it was sending dust cascading, down to the ground level in reality. He, was actually, using blankets, to hide the work that was really, being done up there this. Concealed, landing, area became the escapees, secret. Workshop they. Even built and used a primitive, periscope. To take turns as lookout, in the, workshop, they were able to build the aforementioned, dummies tools, and other items, they'd used to escape it's worth noting that on the night of the escape West, never, made it to this landing, spot due, to the fact that he was unable to break through the last portion of the wall around his ventilation, grease consequently.
West. Was, left behind from. The landing the ceiling was about thirty feet directly overhead and the men were able to climb to the ceiling via the pipes and reach an air vent that they had previously pried off in preparation, for the air escape experts. Believe that sound reportedly, heard around 10:30, p.m. was. The sound of the air vent cover being pushed off on the roof and this, marks the approximate. Time the escapees, would have reached the roof they, then climbed down from the roof via a pipe next to the back of their cellblock climbed, the 15-foot, fence and made, their way to the North Shore of the island which. Brings us to the next phase phase. 3, escaping. The island, in. Their workshop, the inmates had built life preservers, in a six by fourteen foot rubber raft all made, from prison-issue, raincoats. They've, gathered, over 50, raincoats, for the job possibly. Stitching them together using, sewing machines in the clothing or glove shops they, even vulcanized, the rubber raincoats, by holding the seams up to the heat from the steam pipes an idea. They've, gotten from a Popular, Mechanics issue. The, raft was inflated, using, a converted, musical, instrument, a concertina. Ordered, by Morris back in April do you think every day for 50 days they just kept going lost my raincoat, again I mean. There was a forty ninth crime in a row a. Lot, of raincoats, I guess yeah and I guess they weren't keeping inventory of them I'm guessing that they got really not fair amount of poop on them they're like all right throw that in the trash we're, just walking by taking, them slow and what do they store I guess in the workshop you know I find with government, employees they're, always thrilled, to waste the money yeah, yeah they're you know they're spent you know they're like hey yeah, that's, on the government's, dime so if you're a prisoner. And you're like I lost a raincoat they're probably like yeah they, have more I don't care it's not mine. Yeah, that's, coming from Uncle Sam's pop, you're not taking from the guards personal, stash of, raincoats, yeah but, 50 does seem like an inordinate amount to, gather. Organize, them, the. Steamy the steamy pipe a Popular, Mechanics issue, I love it the plan was to sail across San, Francisco, Bay in their raft to Angel Island about, two miles north of Alcatraz, Island from, there they would sail again. This time across Raccoon straight about, a half mile wide which. Would then bring them to the mainland, there, they, would steal a car as well as clothing, according to West who would later inform the FBI about. A good deal of the plan once. The men were discovered missing Alcatraz. Went into lockdown as a search began guards. Quickly found the secret workshop the, hole in the ceiling and footprints, on the roof and at the bottom of the pipe they climbed down the. FBI joined the case as with the Coast Guard and Bureau of prison authorities, in what would be a wide-scale, search, however. The, escapees, as well, as their rat were, never seen again even. Though we know the three men made it off of Alcatraz Island, what. Happened to the three men after, that remains. A mystery, that, being said let's. Get in to the theories of which, there are only two, that, the men escaped and survived or, that. They perished, in the journey over to the mainland, let's, start with the latter the. Bays waters, are known for being frigid, and there is a strong current that could have worked against the escapees, experts. Point out that the trios goal of taking the raft north, to Angel Island would have been extremely difficult at, this time especially. Given that they had paddles, but no rudder, additionally. Results. Of a reenactment, of the escape carried out by Dutch scientists. In a piece for PBS in which, they built a raft, similar, to the one the escapees, used found, that two of the men would have to work to keep the raft inflated, leaving, only one to paddle, the, weather would have been about 47, degrees Fahrenheit, when the men made it outside the prison the, water is said to have been 54, degrees Fahrenheit, if the Roundheads, or the men had gone overboard, into the water they would probably have only lasted, two hours before. Starting to lose consciousness, according, to author Jolene, Babia I'll tell you what you ever looked out into the waters in that Bay, I've, looked out to the water as a night in the ocean it's scary but that Bay in particular, I don't, like the look of it the ocean is scary in the daytime it's scary enough but that Bay scarier. Than the ocean I can't. Say I can't speak to that it's rocky and it's cold the.
Only Time I've ever looked at that Bay has been in a very fun, context, I was watching a group of seals fight each other oh that's fun it was really funny were slapping each other away and them fell off and you but imagine that if you're trying to escape and a seal, hops up on your boat starts laughing I. Don't. Know ideal would be cute but if I come on man goddess gave very, funny meet, you back on the shore we'll do this again sometime on, June 12 bits, of wood resembling, a handmade, paddle, were found in the water near Angel, Island the, pieces were identified, as belonging to the escapees, On June 14th, bags, made from raincoats, were found halfway between Alcatraz. And Angel, Island these, bags contained, irrefutable evidence that, they had belonged to the escapees, photos. Of the England's and their family nine, pieces of paper with a list of people to contact on, the outside, and a, letter written, to Clarence Anglin many. Point to these personal, items as evidence, that the journey was ill-fated. As these, would have not been items easily given, up on June, 15th, a homemade, life vest was found floating near kronkite, beach a second, life vest was discovered on June 22nd. No more than 100, yards from the eastern coast of Alcatraz, Island its. Ties were still knotted, all, three of the men would have set out with very little money so, the fact that the hordes of authorities, on the case never found a shred of evidence of any thefts, or holdups, tied to Morris or the englands for food clothing, or transportation, made. It seem unlikely that, they made it to the mainland, alive the, FBI states that they never found any credible, evidence either in the US or abroad that. The men lived in mid. July 1962. About, six weeks after the escape a Norwegian. Shipping freighter the SS, Norval, spotted, a body in the ocean about 20, miles away from the golden Brij however. They. Did not call in the sighting and did not report it until fall. When, they returned to San Francisco, and the body was, never recovered look. It's a dead guy oh well. I guess, if it's afraid I mean one you should report it but if it's afraid or they can't, imagine they can really stop look I get know so you know time is money yes sure I get not stopping, but. Dead, body, yeah and. Because the body was never recovered we can't tell if it's one of these three men you know so. You. Know shit. Happens in the sea I guess though there, is plenty of credence to our second theory that the escapee survived, morons. And the Anglin brothers had, a raft to help them navigate the waters which many people have successfully, been able to swim before without, the benefit, of a raft or lifejackets.
A Triathlon. Is held each year in which participants, complete, a mile and a half swim in the same waters around the same time of year that the escape occurred. Participants. Do say that the current choppy, waters, and wind, are major, factors to contend, with but, according to Jeff harp a security, analyst, for CBS San, Francisco, who worked with the FBI for over, 20 years and, goes, for swims in the San Francisco Bay, he, doesn't know of any contestants. In the triathlon, who haven't, been able to complete the swim furthermore. Most, of the bodies of those who drown in the bay will float after a few days but, despite extensive, searches, the fugitives, bodies, were never found, US, Marshal Michael Dyke has run a simulation with, help from the Coast Guard that determined, the escapees, could have survived in the water for, two and a half hours at least if the raft plan failed the, same Dutch scientists, who carried out the reenactment, of the escape also, created, a computer, model which. They presented, in 2014. That, could recreate the conditions in the water on the night of the escape the, model found that there was a very narrow window between, 11:30, p.m. and midnight, during. Which the trio would have needed to launch their raft in order to have a chance of, you need to land and since, the inmates may have made it to the roof by 10:30, p.m. this. Window, seems possible though, even, then they, would have had to let the currents carry them to Horseshoe, Bay north, east of the Golden Gate Bridge rather. Than trying to reach Angel Island the. Model also suggested, that items, left at the shoreline near Horseshoe, Bay would, drift back towards Angel Island where, some of the escapees, items were recovered once, the tides reversed, and while, the Dutch scientists, real-life recreation, of the escape did not work as they, were unable to withstand the currents and bring the raft to land they, still got fairly, close to Golden Gate Bridge in a little over an hour aboard, the raft one, of the scientists conceded, he still believes the escapees, might have been able to pull it off given the rush of adrenaline and, need to survive. Also, one, thing I want to point out here I don't. Know how accurate, this, test is if you have scientists. Doing. The paddling, themselves, in the boat what's fucking point that I. Just. Like I mean, I feel like maybe. Have. Some guys, that are a little closer to the dudes who were escaping, yeah I I guess I am generalizing, that scientists, are. Meek. Individuals. But I'm just saying that if these are inmates hardened. Criminals, that, are trying to survive I don't. Know if this is the best people, for the job I guess and I guess scientists, could go to the gym right I suppose well, Chris prep in the in the Jurassic, world film he's not a scientist he's, also a character. But his, name is Owen Grady. Whoa. They're blue oh Jesus. Everybody loves blue a great character, David, Widner the nephew of the Anglin brothers has, said that his uncle Robert one of John and Clarence's older brothers confessed. On his deathbed to his sister's quote that, they didn't have to worry about their brothers that he had been in touch with them and they were okay end quote, when. Are added that his grandmother, who would have been John and Clarence England's, mother would, sometimes receive roses with, her son's signatures, on the card following, the 1962. Escape, multiple. Family members of, John and Clarence Anglin have, claimed over the years at family, funerals, that, have noticed mysterious women, wearing, veils and/or, heavy makeup, which could have been the undercover, England, brothers coming to pay their respects, in 2015. A History, Channel show claimed, that a photo taken of two men in Brazil 13, years, after the escape depicted. Brothers John and Clarence Anglin alive. The. Photograph, came from Fred Brizzy a childhood, friend of the Anglin brothers who, turned it over to the family sometime in the 1990s. Brizzy's. Story is that he was on a trip in Brazil when he happened to run into John, and Clarence at a bar Brizzy. Has since passed away many in the England family have held on to the belief that John and Clarence survived, the escape they also believe the photo shows, John and Clarence an expert. Connected with the History Channel show concluded. That the photo showed, the Anglin brothers the. US Marshal's, Office investigated. The claim their experts, do not believe the photo depicts, John and Clarence, however, they, acknowledge, that a solid determination isn't. Really possible given the age and wear to the photo and the fact that the subjects, are wearing sunglasses, their. Execution, of this plan was so impressive that I know. It's technically, not legal. To do this but just give him a pass also. Even, let's, say they said they survived in the escape yeah the, fact that they didn't get into trouble for the next 50 years means, jail worked for them no work say they received.
A Penance and now they've. Stuck to the plan they had a lot of conviction yeah and you, know what they deserve to be free at that point I mean prison. Truly. Should be about reforming. The, soul, of a man and these folks all they did was drink a premios in Brazil as for the aftermath, of the escape Alan. West the inmate left behind, cooperated. With officials, in the search finishing. Serving his sentence across three different prisons following, Alcatraz, and was, released in 1967. But, he remained free for only one year before. Landing, himself concurrent. Sentences, of five years, one, to three years and live for grand larceny and robbery. He died in 1978. Alcatraz. Shut down in March 1963. Less, than a year after the Anglin Maura's escape the, FBI officially, closed their case on the 1962. Escape from Alcatraz on December, 31st, 1979. Over. 15, years after their investigation, began, however, they, add quote, it's one mystery we'd all like to solve end quote. The case is expected to remain open, with federal marshals, until either the fugitives, are arrested, evidence. Of their deaths is found or the, fugitives, reached 99, years of age in. The end nobody, truly knows if, the enterprising, bunch of Alcatraz, escapees, completed. Their journey or, if, their, midnight, voyage, was ill-fated, for. Now the, case remains, unsolved. I'll. Tell you what on my 99th, birthday I'd be walking, into the US Marshals, office and just being like. Your. Grandson, wheels you in a wheelchair and you're just sunglasses. On just fuck. You coppers it's. Me, I wish drinking could premiums for the last 30 years. Suck it covers and. Then you just died. You.