by KOMO Staff
SAN FRANCISCO - It's one of America's greatest unsolved mysteries - did three inmates who famously escaped from San Francisco's infamous Alcatraz prison in 1962 survive the attempt? And if they did, what became of them?
Now we're learning that one of those three prisoners may have survived - and could have been hiding out in Seattle for several years.
A letter allegedly written by one of the escapees, John Anglin, has been sent to the San Francisco Police Department - and forced the FBI to reopen its case.
"My name is John Anglin," reads the letter. "I escaped from Alcatraz in June 1962. Yes we all made it that night, but barely!"
According to the letter, John Anglin lived in Seattle for most of his life and also spent eight years in North Dakota. He would have been in his 80s by now.
It is believed the three inmates spent months digging a tunnel out of their cells using sharpened spoons. The men made an inflatable raft out of raincoats, set off into the water sometime at night, and were never seen again.
For years it was supposed that the trio could not have survived after escaping into the chilly, churning waters of San Francisco Bay. But some now say it's possible the trio survived the swim from rocky Alcatraz Island.
"Personally, as someone who swims in the bay - and we have a triathlon that goes on every year - and there's not a single person that doesn't make that swim," says former FBI agent John Harp.
The writer of the letter says he is the only of the three escapees who is still alive. He claims fellow escapee Frank Morris died in 2008 and Clarence Anglin died in 2011. The three were sent to Alcatraz for robbing a bank.
The letter writer goes on to say he will reveal his location if police promise he won't go to jail for more than a year and can get medical attention for his cancer.
The letter was sent to police back in 2013 but was not revealed to the public until it was leaked to a local San Francisco TV news station this month by an anonymous source. Even Anglin's family was never told about the letter's existence.
The FBI says tests to find out if the letter is legitimate came back inconclusive.
Think you could escape Alcatraz?— Alcatraz Island (@AlcatrazIsland) December 21, 2017
On December 21, 1889, two men did! A reward of $30 each was offered for the men who disappeared up Powell Street.
Photo: Golden Gate NRA Archives (circa 1895)#ThrowbackThursday #FindYourPark pic.twitter.com/x7B0etcsJZ
The Alcatraz escape was dramatized in the 1979 movie "Escape from Alcatraz," starring Clint Eastwood.