On the night of June 11, 1962, three Alcatraz inmates, Frank Morris and John and Clarence Anglin, set out in a raft made of raincoats into the treacherous waters of San Francisco Bay. They were never seen again.
Watch the video and learn about the convicts and how they escaped the Rock.
Secrets of the Dead: The Alcatraz Escape, premieres nationally Tuesday, March 29 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings).
Alcatraz... 'The Rock'... this Civil War fort-turned-maximum security prison was said to be unbreakable. The men sent here--men like Whitey Bulger and Al Capone--were just as tough.
JOLENE BABYAK: You're talking about 25,000 men in those days in federal prisons and 250 on Alcatraz. so they were the most aggressive, the most assaultive, sometimes most mentally ill one percent.
Jolene Babyak was just 15 the night of the escape. Her dad was acting warden. In 1962 she called Alcatraz island home.
(Sirens going off) Jolene: The siren woke me up. I was late for school, I met my mother on the stairs and she was all kind of pumped up and she said - 'get dressed, there's been an escape! At sunrise the next morning, it became clear that the rock had been broken.
Convicts Frank Morris and John and Clarence Anglin had used sharpened spoons to dig through their cells... They left false grills and dummy heads behind as cover... Climbed up a three story utility corridor, punched through a ceiling ventilation shaft and ran across the cell block roof... Then, they scrambled down a four-story stovepipe, evaded guard towers, made their way down an embankment... and slid into the frigid waters of San Francisco Bay. ...Leaving behind a handful of artifacts and one of America's most enduring mysteries.
PATRICK MAHONEY: If they made it why it was one helluva achievement I'll tell you that!
Everybody was rooting for Morris and the Anglins, and they still are! Unlike many in Alcatraz, Morris and the Anglins weren't violent offenders. They were low-end bank robbers sent to the rock after repeated escape attempts at other prisons.
Morris was an interesting character. He'd been in prison almost every day since he was 13. MICHAEL DYKE He also had what was listed on the test as the highest IQ. John and Clarence Anglin grew up sharecropping alongside fourteen brothers and sisters. They'd robbed their bank using a toy gun. Morris kept the Anglin's in line because I think they were boisterous and talky and wanted everybody to know that they were cool.