The nephews of John and Clarence Anglin, bank robbers who broke out of the maximum high-security Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary on Alcatraz Island in 1962, say that the escapees survived the daring escape and made it alive to Brazil, and that they married and raised families in Brazil.
According to the Daily Mail, Ken Widner, 54, and David Widner, 48, say that if their uncles are still alive they would like the U.S. authorities to commute their sentences so they can return to their families before they die after living more than fifty years as fugitives.
Although FBI investigators concluded in 1979 that the men drowned during the escaped bid, their nephews, Ken and David, recently gave independent investigators photos that suggest they were alive and living in Brazil in 1975.
The photos show two men believed to be the brothers standing on a farm they allegedly acquired at a location near Rio De Janeiro in Brazil.
They escaped from their cells by chiseling a hole in the wall and broke out of the prison building through the roof. It is believed that they escaped with a third inmate, Frank Morris, on a boat made out of inflated raincoats.
However, an alternative theory claims that they body-surfed to sea by holding on to a power cable attached to a ferry that left the island after midnight.
According to the Daily Mail, Ken Widner said he has reason to believe that his uncles made it to Brazil, married and raised families, and that they may still be alive today in their 80s.
Ken said that their uncle, Robert Anglin, brother of John and Clarence, who died in Ruskin, Florida, in October 2010, at 84, confessed before he died that he had been in touch with John and Clarence living in Brazil for 25 years after they escaped from Alcatraz.
Ken told the Daily Mail that “the family had always believed that the brothers had gone to South America. It’s hard to say how we knew; but we did. It was thought some family members knew before Fred Brizzi. We always felt our Uncle Robert knew they survived. Then, on his deathbed, he admitted to being in touch with them for the first 25 years after they escaped and that one of the brothers married and raised a family in Brazil.”
Fred Brizzi is a childhood friend of the Anglin brothers, and a drug smuggler in the 1970s, who claimed he met one of the brothers at a bar in Rio and visited their farm near Rio where he took photographs.
The photo which shows the brothers posing in sunglasses, supposedly on their farm near Rio, was taken by Brizzi and given to the Widners in 1992.
Brizzi reportedly died of lung cancer in 1993.
Ken expressed the conviction that Brizzi deliberately waited until near his death to share the picture with the family. Following Uncle Robert’s deathbed confession, Ken decided to seek the opportunity to travel to Brazil to track down his uncles whom he believes could still be alive.
Clarence Anglin and John Anglin would be 84 and 85 respectively if they are still alive. Ken’s hope that the men are still alive hinges on the pattern of longevity among family members, many of whom survived into their 90s.
He said that if the brothers have married and raised families in Brazil, the Brazilian authorities would be unwilling to extradite them. But in the hope that they could be allowed to return to their families in the U.S., Ken has reportedly made a request to the U.S. authorities to pardon his uncles.
But he said, “Instead of asking for a pardon, we now think we should be asking for time served. I think they’ve served the time. My uncles have spent 53 years away from their family. That’s long enough.”
“I hope they are still alive as I would love to meet them and I would love for my mother to see them one last time.”
There is evidence that the FBI suspected that the brothers were alive and living in Brazil. The Widners accuse the authorities of beating Alfred Anglin — the elder brother of John and Clarence — to death, because he refused to tell them what he knew about the whereabouts of his brothers.
The Daily Mail reports that it obtained declassified FBI documents which show that the first director of the FBI, Edgar Hoover, was briefed in 1965 on the possibility that the Anglins escaped to Brazil.