A San Francisco television station has uncovered a 2013 letter that offers some confirmation to claims of a Jackson County connection to the notorious 1962 Escape from Alcatraz.
The letter was obtained by KPIX 5 and is very similar to one that I received on June 20, 2014. It basically says that Clarence Anglin, John Anglin and Frank Lee Morris survived their crossing of San Francisco Bay – as dramatized in the Clint Eastwood movie Escape From Alcatraz – and eluded the pursuit of FBI agents and U.S. Marshals for more than 50 years. The writer claimed to have been John Anglin, one of the three escapees.
The handwritten note is strikingly similar to an email comment received in 2014 after I published a story about a possible connection between the Jackson County town of Greenwood and the 1962 escape. Please click here to read Greenwood and the Alcatraz Escape.
That story detailed how the U.S. Marshals Service and Jackson County Sheriff’s Department searched for the three escapees in the Greenwood area in 1990 after receiving a tip from a woman identified only as “Kathy.” She claimed to have seen two of them on the farm of a relative and offered compelling enough information that a major search was launched.
The 2013 letter obtained by the San Francisco television station and the 2014 comment that I received have several strong similarities. Each has similar grammatical mistakes. Each indicates that all three escapees survived their voyage from the prison on a homemade rubber raft. Each indicates that by that time (2013-2014), only one of the men was still alive. Each claims that the men avoided trouble for the rest of their lives as a means of escaping detection.
The escapees were not found in Jackson County but there was considerable circumstantial evidence that they might have been here. They grew up in Seminole and Early Counties, Georgia, just 25 miles from the Greenwood sighting location. They were sent to Federal prison for robbing the bank in Columbia, Alabama, which is less than 40 miles from Greenwood. Their trial took place in Dothan.
Additional evidence that John Anglin could be in the Wiregrass area surfaced in 1963 when a man matching his description passed a fraudulent check at a business in Brundidge, Alabama – about one and one-half hours north of Greenwood. The FBI examined the check and its handwriting analysts determined that the writing on it was so similar to that of John Anglin that they were unable to determine “whether ANGLIN did or did not” write it.
The San Francisco letter claims that the men lived in the Pacific Northwest, the Great Plains and that John Anglin lived in Southern California by 2013. The Greenwood claims were made in 1989-1990 and the informant, “Kathy,” suggested that the men had lived in Jackson County for decades.
U.S. Marshals and FBI Agents did search for the men in nearby Southwest Georgia following the 1962 escape, but there is no evidence that they looked across the Chattahoochee River in Florida at that time. It is an area where escapees had – and still have – relatives. They were familiar with the region and the multiple jurisdictions caused by the joining of three states in the vicinity would have made it easier for them to “hide in plain sight.”
In addition, multiple bank robberies were carried out in the area by two men matching the descriptions of two of the escapees during the 1960s. None of those robberies has been solved.
Further circumstantial support for the survival of the men can be found in a photograph aired recently by The History Channel that supposedly shows the escapees alive and in South America during the 1960s or 1970s. There were no identifiable landmarks in the photograph, however, and investigators could not determine whether the men seen in it were actually the Anglins and Frank Morris.
We are in the final stages of completing our new documentary on the local connections to the Alcatraz escape and expect to release it before the end of this month. Watch for further details in coming days.
January 24, 2018
To watch the new story from KPIX 5, just click the play button: