Frank Morris (prisoner) bigraphy, stories - American criminal, escapee from Alcatraz

Frank Morris (prisoner) : biography

01 September 1926 - 11 (presu06ed) M 1962

Frank Lee Morris (September 1, 1926 – missing since June 11, 1962) was an American criminal who escaped from Alcatraz prison in June 1962 and was never seen again.

Early life

Morris was born in Washington, D.C. He was abandoned by his mother and father at a young age and was orphaned at age 11. He spent most of his early years in jail serving lunch to prisoners. The associate warden's record card at Alcatraz Prison lists his "Crimes Involved" as "Juv. Deliq.-2; Runaways-2; Breaking & Entering-1; Burglary-1; Narcotics & Armed Robbery-1; Unlawful Flight, Mann Act, & Bank Robbery-1.", Morris is said to have an IQ of 133, which is in the top 3%.

Popular culture

In 1963, J. Campbell Bruce published his book Escape from Alcatraz about escapes from Alcatraz Island, including that of Morris and the Anglin brothers. The 1979 film Escape from Alcatraz starred Clint Eastwood, Fred Ward, and Jack Thibeau as Frank Morris, John Anglin, and Clarence Anglin respectively. Allen West was played by Larry Hankin; his character's name was changed to Charlie Butts.

Frank Morris and the 1962 escape were examined in a 2011 National Geographic Channel program entitled Vanished from Alcatraz. According to the newly uncovered official records discussed on the program, a raft was discovered on Angel Island with footprints leading away. There was also a report of a stolen car in the area that night, which could have been used by Morris and the other escapees. While confirming these facts, which were hidden from the officials for quite some time, the findings of further investigations remain inconclusive. As a result, the U.S. Marshal’s office is still investigating this case, which will remain open on all three escapees until their 100th birthday.

The TV show MythBusters showed that in similar conditions a raft made of raincoats could be paddled across to the Marin Headlands with three men aboard — the raft was piloted by the show's main cast members Jamie Hyneman, Adam Savage, and Will Abbott, a Mythbusters intern from the shop. Also mentioned at the end of the show, was a compelling report of a paddle found on a part of Angel Island where the current led directly (and only) from the Marin Headlands. The show concluded it is “plausible” that the prisoners may have survived their escape attempt.


On January 3, 1960, Morris was shipped to Alcatraz, where he became prisoner AZ1441. Morris reportedly began devising his escape within a year of his arrival at Alcatraz. There were three others involved: John Anglin, his brother Clarence Anglin and Allen West (who masterminded the plot but was the only conspirator who did not participate in the escape, as he was unable to finish removing the ventilator grill in his cell in time to join the escape when it was eventually carried out The Great Escape from Alcatraz). The escape was long and complicated. Over a period of two years, Morris, West and the Anglin brothers created a raft and lifelike dummies, and stole tools to dig with. So many escape materials had been used by the conspirators that they had created a workshop above their cell row.

Allen West was cleaning above their cell row and asked prison guards if he could cover the area with blankets. West explained his cleaning area was extremely dusty and dust was falling down on the prison floor. These blankets completely covered West's workshop area. By May 1962, they had dug through the vents at the back of the cells, working in shifts, with someone keeping lookout while others dug. On the night of June 11, 1962, the attempt went ahead. The group placed the dummies in their beds, escaped through the vents at the back of their cells and into the utility corridor. They then proceeded onto the roof and down to the bay. There they boarded the raft they had constructed and disappeared into the night.

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