Mystery of Alcatraz escapees who FBI ruled dead – before photo and deathbed confession

A confessional deathbed letter could hold the answers to the mystery of what happened to the only unaccounted-for escapees from the infamous Alcatraz prison.

John Anglin and Clarence Anglin along with Frank Morris, disappeared from the Alcatraz island penitentiary on 1962.

Prison officers and the FBI believed that the escapees had drowned in San Francisco’s dangerous bay.

However, as set out by Estefania Hageman in the Deathbed Confessions podcast, a letter received by the FBI in 2013 which purported to be from John Anglin may have revealed that the trio survived their daring escape.

Alcatraz prison
John and Clarence Alpin are alleged to have been the only successful prisoners to have escaped from Alcatraz prison

The Escape

John and Clarence Anglin were notorious career criminals, separated by only a year in age.

As teenagers, the pair started robbing banks with their brother Alfred. They were repeatedly caught but escaped many times before they were finally sent to Kansas’ maximum security prison.

They were eventually caught and taken to Alcatraz, where Frank Morris, their partner in crime, was waiting.

And Estefania noted that, by the time the Anglins had arrived at the prison in 1960, “America’s hardest prison had softened”.

“The new warden was more focused on rehabilitation than punishment and gives the prisoners much more leeway than in previous years”She suggested.

John and Clarence decided to escape again, this time with Frank Morris, another prisoner.

Alcatraz prison
Alcatraz prison is located off the coast of San Francisco, separated by a bay of water

The prisoners began filing away at the concrete around a vent, hiding their work with instrument cases, and planning to create paper mache heads to fool the guards while they scuttled into their tunnels.

They worked together for six months on their vents.

They created fake cardboard vents and papier-mâché heads, and used human hair from the prison barbers for their dummies.

Once they finally made it into the vents, the prisoners used an open space accessed via the vent’s pipes at the top of the cells to construct a raft which they planned to use to navigate the choppy waters off the prison island.

They used 50 prison raincoats to make a 6x14ft boat.

John, Clarence, Frank and their accomplice, Frank, made their escape the night of 13 June 1962. Evading the lighthouse’s circling flash, the group stayed low and slid down a drainpipe from the prison roof eventually making it to the shore.

They then got on board their boat and pumped up.

John Anglin
John Anglin is alleged to have sent a letter to San Francisco police claiming he would reveal his whereabouts in 2013

The Letter

With the guards eventually raising the alarm at the prisoner’s disappearance, it was assumed that they had perished on their perilous crossing.

The Deathbed Confessions podcast now suggests that they may have survived.

An unverified letter that was received in 2013 by the San Francisco police Department is one piece of evidence that is believed to support this theory.

The letter was purportedly from John Anglin and contained details about the fate of the former prisoners over the fifty years since their escape.

Frank Morris
Frank Morris met the Anglin brothers in Alcatraz and proposed the idea of escaping

Estefania described how the letter set out John’s situation and also noted that Frank Morris died in 2008, while claiming that Clarence passed away in 2012. John’s own situation was then outlined.

“I am 83 years old and in bad shape, I have cancer. Yes we all made it that night, but barely”John, allegedly wrote.

“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.”

The podcast stated that the US marshals had written the letter to make it seem like a hoax. Estefania suggested there was more evidence that indicated that the escapees survived their journey across the bay.

Clarence Anglin
Clarence Anglin was a career criminal, with a history of escaping from prisons

The Photograph

The crucial piece of evidence which points to the prisoners’ survival, Estefania alleges, is a picture that supposedly depicts John and Clarence on a farm in Brazil in 1975.

This photograph, given to them by a friend of the family, was shared to police by Ken and David Widner, John and Clarence’s nephews.

Estefania claimed that when the photo was given to a forensic facial imaging expert Michale Street, the testing concluded that it is “highly likely” to be John and Clarence shown in the photograph.

Estefania continued to explain that the claim’s authenticity was tested again in 2020, when a machine-learning algorithm checked the photo.

John and Clarence Anglin
This photograph allegedly shows John and Clarence Anglin alive at a farm in Brazil in 1975

She suggested: “The algorithm comes back with conclusive results; It’s a 100% match. The men in the photo, at least from a technological perspective, are John and Clarence Anglin.

“Neither the US Marshals nor the FBI have verified the letter police received from the man claiming to be John Anglin in 2013.

“But that’s not to say they have given up their search, the Marshals have pledged to continue to pursue the Alcatraz fugitives until they are arrested, presumed dead, or reached the age of 99.

“If John is still alive, he’d be 91 years old. Maybe in 8 years time, John Anglin will emerge from hiding after a lifetime running from the law, and finally reveal how he, his brother Clarence, and Frank Morris escaped justice for so long.”

The FBI officially closed their case on December 31, 1979 and turned over responsibility to the US Marhsals Service which, they say, “continues to investigate in the unlikely even the trio are still alive”.

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