Picture of Alcatraz prison, after the June 1962 escape.
Jon Brenneis—The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images
By Sarah Begley
January 24, 2018

A letter written by a man who says he is John Anglin — one of three men whose fates have remained unknown since their escape from Alcatraz in 1962 — may prove that at least one of the prisoners survived.

The letter, sent to the San Francisco Police Department in 2013, was recently obtained by CBS San Francisco. Its writer claims to be Anglin and says that his fellow escapees, brother Clarence Anglin and Frank Morris, have died — Morris in 2008, Anglin three years later. “I’m 83 years old and in bad shape,” he writes. “I have cancer. Yes we all made it that night but barely!”

The three men broke out on June 11, 1962, after squeezing through the vents in their cells. They prepared for months, stockpiling necessities to survive their escape from the island in the Pacific Ocean — including a raft made from 50 raincoats, DIY life vests, and paddles.

The author of the letter writes, “If you announce on TV that I will be promised to first go to jail for no more than a year and get medical attention, I will write back to let you know exactly where I am. This is no joke…”

Authorities have never known for sure whether the three men survived the escape, and many assumed they died in the freezing water.

The U.S. Marshals told CBS an FBI lab checked the handwriting and tested for fingerprints and DNA, but the results were inconclusive. They now consider the lead closed with no merit, according to the network.

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