1962 Alcatraz Escape FBI Files


Alcatraz Escape FBI

June 15, 1962 FBI

An unnamed Inmate of the U.S. Penitentiary, Alcatraz, was Interviewed in the presence of ARTHUR M. DOLLISON, Associate Warden. United States Penitentiary, Alcatraz Island, at that institution. He was initially advised that he need not furnish any information, and if he did, same could be used against him in a court of law. He was advised as to his rights to consult an attorney. No threats or promises were made to him. On May 5, 1961, he was released from the Treatment Unit at Alcatraz and returned to the main cell area. At that time he began to think about, and look for ways to break out of Alcatraz. It was general knowledge among the inmates that above the cell blocks there were some eight ventilator holes to the roof which had not been used in several years. These holes had been covered up, however, it appeared that the one above cell block "C" had been cemented up, according to information among the inmates. When painting in that area about 9 to 10 months ago, he noticed that the lid covering this ventilator hole to the roof was not cemented up as he originally had heard. He believed then that it was possible to break out that way. Around this time plumbers were working in the utility corridor which separates the cells in "B" cell block. This corridor contains all of the plumbing facilities which lead into the back of all of the cells in that block. After the plumbers had finished working, they were instructed to clean the refuse from the utilities corridor. This utilities corridor is approximately 3 feet wide and extends to the roof of the building. While cleaning the floor of the utilities corridor underneath a cement support, he noticed something wrapped in an oil paper. When he opened it he found that it contained some rusty saw blades and little pieces of files, all makeshift and which had evidently, from their condition, been secreted there for some 10 to 20 years. He left this material where he had located it. He mentioned it to JOHN ANGLIN, an inmate having cell #152 in Block B. He had become acquainted with JOHN ANGLIN previously when they were both in the Florida Penitentiary.


When discussing this with JOHN ANGLIN, it was apparent that he was already aware of the possibility of escaping through the ventilation area in the roof. They discussed the possibility of breaking out of Alcatraz and swimming to the mainland. They considered cutting a couple of the front cell bars and possibly going up the left front part of the cell area to behind a steel cage door and working on this as an exit, then, decided that this could not be accomplished. It was then apparent that they had to get out of the back part of their cell into the utility corridor to get to the roof.