Did they really escape Alcatraz? - FOX 13 News

Did they really escape Alcatraz?

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  • Did they really escape Alcatraz?More>>

  • From Ruskin to Alcatraz and back?

    From Ruskin to Alcatraz and back?

    Ruskin is a quiet town hiding a big secret -- if you believe local legend.  Some say John and Clarence Anglen, two of the only supposed escapees from Alcatraz, are secretly still alive and well in rural Florida.
    Ruskin is a quiet town hiding a big secret -- if you believe local legend.  Some say John and Clarence Anglin, two of the only supposed escapees from Alcatraz, are secretly still alive and well in rural Florida.
TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Their story has become legendary: 50 years ago, two men from the Tampa Bay area escaped from one of the country's most infamous prisons, and some locals believe these two may be living right here or somewhere close by.

Now, on the 50th anniversary of the only escape from Alcatraz, U.S. Marshals are openly investigating the case. They've been looking for the John and Clarence Anglin ever since.

As the story goes, they put together a makeshift raft and set sail across San Francisco Bay. Some say they couldn't have survived. However, some family members say they know they're alive.

Marie Anglin Widner keeps photos of her famous brothers. John and Clarence Anglin, as well as Frank Morris, broke free from Alcatraz on June 11, 1962.  They dug holes through cell vents, making dummies with real hair to leave in their beds while they crawled through walls and down pipes to freedom.

Some say they probably drowned in the choppy waters of the San Francisco Bay, but their sister—well, she has no doubt.

"We know they're okay," she said.

That confidence is one reason the FBI has been tracking the family for years.

"I was outside with my mom one time when an FBI agent came by," said Ken Widner, nephew of the escapees.

Authorities have gotten bits and pieces of information along the way that suggested the men did, indeed, survive.

"We've gotten info over the years that two of the brothers did not drown but have somehow made their way, we've heard different places to Central or South America," said U.S. Marshal Erik Richmond.

Local legend says they've been spotted in Ruskin, at least a time or two.

"Somebody told me just recently that they're 80 and 81 today," said historian Jonie Maschek.

The U.S. Marshals will search until the men are approximately 99 years old.  Their sister isn't worried.

"I'm very proud myself.  I'm proud they got out," she said.

Their cell mate, a man with who lived in St. Pete, wasn't so lucky. Allen West is credited with planning the escape, but in the end, wasn't able to get out with the others.

"I was always told that my uncle was the main guy. He was the one that helped created the faces that they put under the blankets and stuff," said Patricia Bunnell.

West's escape tunnel was blocked by a pole, so he remained in prison. When he finished his sentence, he moved back home to St. Petersburg, but his niece says he wasn't free for long.  He was arrested in St. Pete for plotting to rob another bank, and ended up spending the rest of his life in jail.

That fate may still await the Anglins if the U.S. Marshals' current search brings success.

"If they really believe they didn't make it, why are they still looking for them?" Widner asked.           

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