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The June 1962 Alcatraz escape was an attempt by American criminals Clarence Anglin, John Anglin and Frank Morris to escape Alcatraz Island, one of the United States’ most famous prisons. They burrowed out of their cells, climbed a ventilation shaft onto the roof and then climbed down and left the island on a makeshift raft. Despite an extensive search, the men were never heard from again and their fates remain unknown.


By September 1961, Morris, West, and the Anglin brothers were planning an elaborate escape attempt. By late May 1962, they had finished making a small hole in the wall using several spoons, stolen from the dining hall, which took a year. Then, on the night of June 11, 1962, they made their escape attempt. However, West did not make it out of his cell and was left behind. According to the acting warden, they put dummy heads–made of a mixture of soap, toilet paper and real hair–in their beds to fool prison officers making night-time inspections.

Following an investigation, it was revealed that Morris and the Anglins escaped from their cells by crawling through holes in the cell walls which they had dug with spoons over a year’s time. This put them into a disused service corridor. From there, they climbed a ventilation shaft to reach the roof. The trio then climbed down from the rooftop, scaled the prison’s fence and assembled a raft from the prison’s standard issue raincoats and contact cement. They then pumped up and boarded the raft, launching it from the northeastern coast of the island.

It is unknown what occurred after the inmates launched the raft. The day after the escape attempt, remnants of the raft made of raincoats, paddles, and a bag containing the Anglins’ personal effects were found on Angel Island, two miles from Alcatraz.


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