New evidence produced by family members suggests that the three men who escaped from San Francisco's infamous Alcatraz prison in 1962 may still be alive and living in Brazil.
While investigators concluded at the time of the daring escape that brothers John and Clarence Anglin and Frank Morris died trying to make their way across San Francisco Bay in a raft made out of raincoats, two nephews of the Anglin brothers argue otherwise – and presented evidence to the History Channel earlier this week.
Ken and David Widner handed over a photo to retired U.S. Marshals investigator Art Roderick of what they allege are the two brothers standing by a roadside in Brazil in 1975. They also showed a Christmas card the brothers' mom purportedly received three years after the escape.
"This is a complete game changer," Roderick told the show producers, adding that while the date of the card has not been confirmed, it has been established that the handwriting belongs to one of the convicted bank robbers.
— Daily Mirror (@DailyMirror) October 13, 2015
Roderick, who led a squad investigating the famed escape for nearly 20 years and continues to research the case into his retirement, said that a forensic expert he recently spoke with found it "highly likely" that the men in the photo were the Anglin brothers. If the two convicts are alive today, they would be in their mid-80s.
According to the New York Post, David Widner is working on a book that will contain more evidence, including a letter from Boston crime boss Whitey Bulger, who did time with the brothers in Alcatraz.
In a 2014 letter to Ken Widner, the Post reported, Bulger said he instructed the brothers on how to navigate the San Francisco bay currents.
"‘[They] undoubtedly had done exactly what I told them to do,’ " Ken Widner said Bulger wrote in his letter.
“He taught them that when you disappear, you have to cut all ties,” he told the Post. “‘This is the mistake that I made,’" Bulger added.
The new information adds another twist to the already hazy tale of the only successful escape from the island prison during its 29-years operation.
The escape – made even more famous when it was dramatized in the 1979 "Escape from Alcatraz" starring Clint Eastwood – occurred when the three inmates snuck through holes they had been digging for months with spoons and butter knifes before scaling two barbed-wire fences.
They also tricked prison guards by planting dummy heads in their beds, with real human hair they had been collecting from the penitentiary's barber.
The biggest question of the escape had always been how could the escapees have survived the frigid waters of the San Francisco Bay, but Dutch researchers recently concluded that if they left between 11 p.m. and midnight they actually had a chance to make it before the water got too cold.
"I truly believe we're going to close [the case]," Roderick said.