IT is a question that has intrigued down through the decades, inspiring books and movies and millions of visits to Alcatraz Island. Did the trio of inmates who escaped the infamous US jail ever make it to shore? The hunt continues.



Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary was a maximum security facility on Alcatraz Island, 1.25 miles offshore from San Francisco, California, developed from a military fortification into a prison in the early 1930s. The idea was that the strong currents of the Pacific and the cold water temperatures would make it nigh on impossible to escape this lonely island, also known as ‘the rock'.


It became notorious?

Over the three decades it was in use, the prison held some of the most notorious criminals in American history, notably Chicago mob boss Al Capone and murderer and ornithologist Franklin Stroud, also known as the ‘Birdman of Alcatraz’, as well as gangster George ‘Machine Gun’ Kelly.


Clint Eastwood escaped…

…on the silver screen, as Eastwood portrayed Morris in the icon 1979 movie, Escape from Alcatraz, based on a non-fiction book of the same name, dramatising the escape and co-starring Patrick McGoohan.


When was the escape?

Back in 1962. Burglar and robber, Frank Morris, from Washington DC, and Georgia bank robbers Clarence Anglin and his brother John Anglin, made a dash for it late at night on June 11 - or in the early hours of June 12 - by hiding papier-mâché heads, with flesh paint and real hair, to resemble their own likenesses in their beds and using an unused corridor behind their cells to break out. They left the island on an inflatable raft made of prison raincoats, dodging the lights from the island’s guard towers.


And then?

Who knows? The FBI state that within two days, a packet of letters sealed in rubber and related to the men was recovered. Later, some paddle-like pieces of wood and bits of rubber inner tube were found in the water. A homemade life-vest was also found washed up on a beach, but extensive searches did not turn up any other items in the area and no bodies have ever been found.


What do the police say?

The FBI concluded that it was unlikely the men survived, most likely drowning in the ice cold waters of the bay, with no credible evidence ever emerging to dispute this; officially closing its case on December 31, 1979 and turning over responsibility to the US Marshals Service, which continues to investigate - just in case.



The Marshals Service released three age-progressed images of Morris and the Anglin brothers, showing how they may look now in their 80s onward, making no further comment but clearly still on the hunt for any information to close the case, one way or the other.



The prison closed in 1963 and is now operated by the National Park Service as a major tourist attraction, welcoming more than one million visitors a year.