Alcatraz 50 years later

Published: Jun. 8, 2012 at 9:00 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 11, 2012 at 9:25 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LEE CO., GA (WALB) - Alcatraz Prison was called the "inescapable prison," but 50 years ago three men did what was thought to be impossible.  They escaped from the rock.

Two of those men were brothers of a Lee County woman who will be a special guest at Alcatraz during a ceremony Monday to commemorate the great escape.

Marie Anglin Widener and her family leave tomorrow for San Francisco, and Monday they will be in Alcatraz on the 50th anniversary of the only escape off the rock.  And Marie is really looking forward to it.

Marie Anglin Widener says she has been looking forward to her trip to Alcatraz for months.

"Monday will be a special day. That's the day. The anniversary, the 11th," said Widener.

June 11, 1962 Marie's brothers, Clarence and John Anglin escaped from Alcatraz Prison in the San Francisco bay, along with Frank Morris the only men to escape the Rock.  Some said they drowned in the escape attempt, but Marie believes they made it and are still alive.

"I don't have any doubts that they did get out.  No, I don't have any doubts. Never have," said Widener.

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 35 years.  Clarence and John were sent to Alcatraz, because they kept trying to escape.

"Everybody does wrong needs to be punished for what they do.  But I think they gave them too many years and they sent them to the wrong place.  Because they never harmed anybody," said Widener.

They dug out of their cells, leaving fake heads in the bed.

At the time authorities said the Anglin brothers drowned in the frigid waters of the bay but now admit it appears they made a clean getaway.  50 years later Marshals and prison officials will welcome Marie and 6 members of her family to mark the anniversary.

"We're supposed to get to go in the cells and see exactly where they dug out.  And I think we are going to see some stuff left in the cells when they left out," said Widener.

Marie has always loved her brothers, and is often asked about her family's amazing story, and where her brothers ended up. She always has the same answer.

"I have no idea. If it was me, I'd be wanting to go to South America.  But I don't know," said Widener.

What Marie does know, her brothers were clever enough to escape the inescapable prison Alcatraz, and she thinks they are still alive today.  And Monday's ceremony at Alcatraz will be as close to a family reunion as she will be able to celebrate.

Marie Widener's visit is receiving a lot of attention worldwide.  A great deal of media is expected for her visit Monday.  And with a sly wink she told me she believes her brothers will be enjoying it just as much.

Alcatraz was shut down less than one year after the Anglin brother's escape.  Now it is maintained as a national park.

Copyright 2012 WALB.  All rights reserved.