It was fifty-years ago tonight, June 11, 1962, when convicted bank robbers Frank Lee Morris, Clarence Anglin and John Anglin disappeared from Alcatraz. They were never found.
It took them a year to create the escape route, disguise it and create the necessary tools. Soap and toilet-paper turned into decoys, air ducts became doorways, and rubber raincoats and plastic bags made a raft. On the night of the escape a ventilation shaft behind air ducts to their cells gave them a route to the roof. From there they climbed down a chimney on the outside of the building and then paddled their raft towards Marin. Mythbusters recreated the scene and tested the raft’s seaworthiness.
Morris is credited with devising the plan during his first year at the deteriorating facility. He had been sent to Alcatraz in 1960 on a sentence that would have ended in 1974. Instead, he escaped and it was closed by 1963.