Nephew of Alcatraz escapees speaks out about newly surfaced letter

Nephew of Alcatraz escapees speaks out about newly surfaced letter
A letter was sent to law enforcement in 2013 (Source: WALB)
Widner has authored a book on Alcatraz (Source: WALB)
Widner has authored a book on Alcatraz (Source: WALB)

LEE CO., GA (WALB) - The Lee County nephew of two of the three men who are thought to have escaped Alcatraz Prison is speaking out about a letter that was reportedly written by his uncle.

David Widner said he is upset, after learning he may have missed a chance to connect with his fugitive relative.

Widner sat in his house reading a letter from more than fifty years ago. It was one of the last sent by brothers John and Clarence Anglin to family before breaking out of Alcatraz.

Now, Widner has found out another, more recent, correspondence exists.

"Yeah, it was there and it was like wow, unbelievable," Widner said.

Widner adds he saw social media posts Tuesday that detailed a 2013 letter to law enforcement, alleged to be from his Uncle John.

"Its possible, it's very possible," Widner said.

He said the note stated Anglin had escaped Alcatraz, was suffering from cancer, and wanted to return to the U.S., face jail time and get treatment.

"That's pretty sad that they didn't let the family know that he had contacted them, whether it was John or not," Widner said. "He had cancer and was dying."

Widner adds the news, even unconfirmed, that John had tried to reach out upset his mother, especially since he worked with federal investigators.

"We worked with them. We gave them information when we did the TV show," Widner said. "During the filming of the TV show, in 2014, they already had the letter. They knew that letter existed. They just decided not to tell us."

It's a period of time David said he'll never get back.

"Maybe, we could've helped him," Widner said. "We missed a five-year-opportunity to maybe get in touch with him."

During that time, cancer, which the letter had claimed John had, also struck his family in another unthinkable way.

"In 2015, my 17-year-old son Nicolas Widner passed away from cancer," he said.

It's a hard sentence to swallow, but one that's all the more reason David wants answers.

Widner said he's reached out to U.S. Marshals to get a copy of the letter.

He said the FBI didn't find John Anglin's fingerprints on it.

Widner said he does not think the handwriting in the letter is similar to John's but believes someone else could've written it for him.

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