Alcatraz escapees remembered by family members

Published: Dec. 26, 2011 at 5:21 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 3, 2012 at 11:24 PM EST
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A Lee County woman and her family will travel to the Alcatraz Prison National Park this summer, for the 50th anniversary of the only prisoner escape from the Rock-- the inescapable prison.

Her brothers are two of the three men credited with that escape, and she will go there to celebrate.

Marie Anglin Widner has a display by her door, showing her love for two of her brothers.

Colquitt, GA natives Clarence and John Anglin escaped from Alcatraz Prison in the San Francisco Bay, along with Frank Morris on June 11, 1962. They're the only men to escape the Rock.

Some said they drowned in the escape attempt, but Marie knows they made it and are still alive. "We know they are OK," Widner said.

Marie has hundreds of photos, paintings, letters, and every newspaper article written about her brother's story.

In 1958 brothers John, Clarence, and Alfred robbed the Columbia, Alabama bank with a toy gun. They were captured a few days later in Cincinnati, and given hard time. But John and Clarence kept trying to escape.

"The only reason they put them in Alcatraz was because they could not keep them anywhere else they put them. They kept getting away. Getting away," Widner said. "This is their cells. They got 35 years apiece."

Marie has many of the items the brothers had in prison and used in a mastermind escape, the subject of many books and movies.

"Largest manhunt ever. And I think they are still on the top ten most wanted list. So they would love to have them back. But chances of that is real slim,"  said David Widner, Marie's son.

Marie's sons David and Ken grew up used to FBI visits and their phone being bugged. And it continues today. The Feds stopped by Marie's house just months ago.

"How long will you be looking for my brothers? He said 100 years from now. And I said well good luck," Marie Widner said.

Clarence Anglin is now 81 years old ,and John 80. And all is ready for the family to be at Alcatraz for the 50th anniversary of their escape.

"When she knows that she can look in those cells and know that they were actually living there at one time. Laying on those beds, it's a way of connecting back to them," Ken Widner said. "They are not sure how to go about celebrating something like that. But they know we are coming, and they know that's why we are coming."

Marie with a wink in her eye says she knows what her brothers did was wrong, but is glad they did not spend their lives behind bars. "Never stopped loving them. Still love them."

Alcatraz was shut down less than a year after the Anglin's escape. The Widner's hope to get the government to return some of the Anglin brother's items, which are still on display in the Alcatraz museum.

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