John Anglin

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For the American Civil War sailor, see John Anglin (Medal of Honor).
John Anglin
John Anglin - head shot - 01.jpg
John Anglin mugshot taken at Alcatraz, 1960
Born John William Anglin
(1930-05-02)May 2, 1930
Donalsonville, Georgia, United States
Criminal charge Armed robbery, escaped from prison (Alcatraz)
Parent(s) George Robert Anglin (father)
Rachael Van Miller Anglin (mother)
Imprisoned at Last imprisoned at Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary until escape on June 11, 1962

John William Anglin (born May 2, 1930 – 1975 or later) was an American criminal and folk culture figure who took part in the infamous June 1962 Alcatraz escape.

The three men who took part in the escape attempt are officially listed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as missing and presumed drowned.[1] On October 12, 2015, however, a History Channel documentary, Alcatraz: Search For The Truth, provided new evidence in the case. A photograph and other items purporting to show Anglin and his brother Clarence on a farm in Brazil in the mid-1970s were provided to law enforcement by family members of the brothers. A retired investigator with the U.S. Marshals Service who formerly led the case in recent years had the photo analyzed by a forensic artist. The forensic expert stated the photo was likely to be of the brothers. An FBI investigator assigned to the case said the photo was worthy of further investigation.[2]

Early years[edit]

John Anglin and his brother Clarence Anglin were born in Miller County (Colquitt) Georgia to a family with 14 children (7 boys and 7 girls), to George Robert Anglin and Rachael Van Miller Anglin, spent some of their life in Donalsonville, Seminole County Georgia and then moved to Ruskin, Florida. John and Clarence went to Michigan every May to pick cherries to help the family out financially and they learned to swim there in the cold waters. They usually robbed places that were closed to ensure that no one got injured, and the bank robbery was the only time they used a weapon which was a toy gun.[3]


In 1958 John Anglin robbed the Columbia, Alabama bank with a toy gun together with his brothers Clarence and Alfred.[4] They were sentenced to prison for 35 years. John was sent to Alcatraz after being caught attempting escape from the state penitentiary; he arrived on October 21, 1960, as Alcatraz inmate AZ1476, and Clarence arrived on January 10, 1961, as Alcatraz inmate AZ1485. By September 1961, prisoners Frank Morris, Allen West, and the Anglin brothers were planning an elaborate escape attempt.

By late May 1962, Morris, West, and the Anglins had finished cutting through the walls of their cells. On June 11 the escape began with Morris and the Anglins climbing up the ventilation shaft through one of the chimneys and reaching the top of the roof. The trio then climbed down the rooftop, inflated their rubber raft and then paddled away into the night, never to be seen again. The next morning police searched for the escapees on Alcatraz and Angel Island without success. In 1962, the three were put on the FBI's Most Wanted List. West did not make it out of his cell[5] and no charges were pressed against him.

FBI wanted poster

The official report on the escape says the prisoners drowned in the bay but since then, there have been reports that there was an illegal boat in the bay on the night of the escape, that there have been sightings of the three men and that friends and family members have received many unsigned postcards and messages.

A day after the escape a man claiming to be John Anglin had called a lawyer in San Francisco and wanted the lawyer to arrange a meeting with the U.S. Marshals office.[citation needed] When the lawyer refused to do this, the person hung up. The sister of the brothers, Marie Anglin Widner, has told the media she believes that the brothers attended their mother's funeral in 1973, disguised as women.[6] On October 12, 2015, the History Channel premiered a documentary about the 1962 Alcatraz escape, focusing on John and Clarence Anglin and the possibility that their escape was successful. The program, Alcatraz: Search for the Truth provided viewers with evidence kept by the brothers' family that included Christmas cards signed by "John" and "Clarence"; an audio tape of a childhood family friend, Fred Brizzi, telling the family in the early 1990s about a chance encounter in 1975 with the brothers in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; a photograph taken by the same family friend in 1975 of two men resembling John and Clarence Anglin. After presenting this evidence to Art Roderick, a former deputy U.S. Marshal who had been assigned to the 1962 cold case before his retirement, the evidence was examined by forensic experts. Among the experts was a photo and facial recognition analyst who said he believed the photograph to be of John and Clarence Anglin.[2][7][8][9][10]

(left) Clarence Anglin (right) John Anglin in 1975, on a farm that they supposedly owned in Brazil.

Popular culture[edit]

In 1963, J. Campbell Bruce published his book Escape from Alcatraz about escapes from Alcatraz Island, including that of Morris and the Anglin brothers.[11] The 1979 film Escape from Alcatraz starred Clint Eastwood, Fred Ward, and Jack Thibeau as Frank Morris, John Anglin, and Clarence Anglin respectively. Allen West was played by Larry Hankin; his character's name was changed to Charlie Butts.[12]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]