Charlie Hopkins, a former Alcatraz inmate, was one of almost 180 prisoners who helped three men orchestrate the only successful escape from the infamous federal island prison in the San Francisco Bay.
To this day, the whereabouts of the three inmates, Clarence Anglin, John Anglin, and Frank Morris are unknown. Some speculate they disappeared in the frigid waters of the SF Bay, while sightings of the men have been reported over the years in Southern Georgia, Florida and even South America. The case was closed by the FBI on December 31, 1979, but was given over to the U.S. Marshals Service office and is still open with them.
Here, Hopkins explains that he and several others knew about the men’s plans to escape. The entire inmate population kept their plans a secret from guards and aided the men in any way they could, including creating diversions to occupy corrections officers when necessary and gathering items that could be fashioned into makeshift tools for digging and chipping away at walls.
On the night of June 11, 1962, the Anglin brothers and Frank Morris executed their year-long plan. The men placed “dummy heads” they constructed out of soap, toilet paper and real hair in their beds to fool the night-watch guards who were on patrol. They crawled through holes they created in the walls which they had chiseled and chipped away at for a year. A fourth man, Allen West, who came up with the entire plan, was left behind. Once Morris and the Anglin brothers reached the service corridor, they climbed the ventilation shaft to reach the prison’s roof. From the roof, they climbed down the bakery smoke stack and over the fence. Using the rubber backing of over 50 prison-issued rain coats, they had fashioned a raft and life jackets. What happened to the men once they reached the water is a matter of speculation. [x]