The breakdown of three prisoners from the famous Alcatraz prison in 1962 has been the subject of unbridled speculation for more than half a century. Now, a handwritten letterabout whether men survived the icy waters and deadly currents of San Francisco Bay, which had long thought it impossible to escape.
Since the disappearance of brothers John and Clarence Anglin along with inmate Frank Morris, the official story is that they did not make it, reports John Blackstone of CBS News. But a letter, obtained by the affiliate of CBS, KPIX, affirms that the three lived until old age.
"My name is John Anglin," the letter begins, "I escape [d] from Alcatraz in June 1962 … Yes, we all accomplished that night, but hardly!"
The Anglin cell is now a favorite stop for tourists who can see the vent that squeezed when he and the others paused, then floated off the island on a homemade raft.
"It has always been talked about through the family," said David Widner, John's nephew and Clarence Anglin. "My grandmother received roses for several years after the flight."
Widner said John and Clarence's signature was on the cards that came with those flowers.
The letter was received by San Francisco police in 2013, but has never been made public before.
"I really have not come to a conclusion if I think it's John coming or not," Widner said.
The US Marshal Service says the FBI could not determine if it was real. The three remain on the list of the most wanted of the Marshal's Service along with photos of how they could look today.
At the time of the escape, Jolene Babyak was 15 years old and lived on Alcatraz. His father was a guardian in office.
"I was awakened by the siren," Babyak said. "I can see why the FBI would consider it inconclusive because there are no clues here that can go further."
The letter makes an offer: "If you announce on television that I am promised that I will go to jail for no more than a year and receive medical attention, I will respond to tell you exactly where I am." He adds: "I am 83 years old and I am in poor condition.
"For him to say he had cancer and he was dying, I think they should have at least contacted the family and let them know it existed," Widner said.
If the three survived these treacherous waters, as the letter says, they would have survived the prison. Alcatraz closed the year after the flight, but the mystery remains open.
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