Alcatraz Escape book by South Georgia author wins international award

Alcatraz Escape book by South Georgia author wins international award
They tunneled out of their cells, leaving model heads in their bunks to fool guards. (Source: David Widner)
They tunneled out of their cells, leaving model heads in their bunks to fool guards. (Source: David Widner)
David Widner (Source: WALB)
David Widner (Source: WALB)

LEE CO., GA (WALB) - The second week of June marks the 56th anniversary of the most talked about prison escape in the history of the United States.

The question remains 56 years later, did three men escape from Alcatraz, the island penitentiary that once housed America's most dangerous and escape-threat inmates.

A Lee County man, the nephew of Clarence and John Anglin, has written a book discussing the fate of his uncles after their disappearance. And now it has been handed one of the industries biggest awards.

David Widner's book, "Escaping Alcatraz, the Untold Story of the Greatest Prison Break in American History," won Best Book in the International Book Awards True Crime Non-Fiction category. Widner said he thought his book was good.

"But to have an organization like this vote it number one for 2018 was just amazing," said Widner.

Widner's mother is the sister of Clarence and John Anglin, two of the three men who went missing from their cells in Alcatraz 56 years ago.

The two were convicted of bank robbery and sent to Alcatraz because they were escape threats. They tunneled out of their cells, leaving model heads in their bunks to fool guards. Their bodies were never found, leading to decades of conjecture.

Did they really get away?

U.S. Corrections and Marshal's say no, but Widner said the Marshal's have been a constant presence in their family's life ever since.

"One of the things I always ask them, if y'all really believe that they didn't make it, then why are you still looking for them?" said WIdner. "I mean that doesn't make any sense to me. But they continue to this day to look for them."

Widner has a picture reportedly taken in Brazil in 1975 of John and Clarence.

There has been much debate by the experts if it is truly the Anglin brothers.

"If my mom says that those two guys in that picture are her brothers, then it's her brothers. I would recognize my brother in a picture and she does too. It doesn't really matter to us what they think. We know the truth."

Widner said he receives messages from around the world from people about his uncles and his book. He said most people are hoping their escape was successful.

"What's crazy, a lot of people are always cheering them on," said Widner. "Like they want to think they made it."

Widner spent five years writing his book, which is available on Amazon, at Walmart or Barnes & Noble.

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