But there was one problem with the confession: no cars were reported stolen in or around Angel Island in the twelve days following the escape. This means either they planned to stop at a different location and West lied, or they landed somewhere else accidentally, or Morris and the Anglin brothers never reached the shore.
During his confession, West bragged to the authorities that the whole plan had been his idea and that he orchestrated the great escape. That was when the authorities got the FBI involved. They opened an official investigation to determine if the three convicts survived the escape attempt.
Raising the Alarm
Following that day, Frank Lee Morris and John and Clarence Anglin were never seen again. They headed out to sea in their improvised raft at roughly 11:30 PM and fell off the face of the earth. The prison authorities didn’t even notice they were missing before the following morning.
Early the next morning, blaring sirens rocked the prison of Alcatraz and woke up all the inmates. There was great confusion, and nobody could believe that anyone had actually tried to escape “The Rock.” They all knew such a thing could not be done, but they would soon discover that three inmates had achieved the impossible and gotten away.
Last Man Out
Allen West was down but not out, and he had not given up on his plans for escape. Even though he was left behind, he continued working on enlarging the hole in his cell enough to squeeze through, and he finally succeeded. West was ecstatic; he left his cell and started to follow the rest of the team.
After leaving his cell, West climbed to the rooftop, but by the time he made it to the top, the others were nowhere to be seen. He had no raft or help and had to decide whether to take a chance and swim for it, and most likely lose his life or return to his cell.
The Bay Search
The bay was searched intensively but no bodies were ever recovered, although some personal items were discovered floating in the water the following day. The water the night of the escape was quite cold, ranging from a temperature of 50 to 54 degrees. The San Francisco Bay is characterized by frigid water all year long.
According to the experts, an adult male would be able to survive roughly 20 minutes in the cool water before it caused a breakdown in bodily functions. Also, the escapees would not have been able to prepare for the frigid water temperatures while at Alcatraz because the officials kept the water warm in part to deter from escape.
On December 31, 1997, 17 years after the escape, the FBI investigation was finally dropped. They concluded that the prisoners probably drowned in the San Francisco Bay as the bodies never being found. The US Marshals, however, have kept their investigation ongoing.
The Deputy US Marshal said to NPR in an interview in 2009: “There’s an active warrant, and the Marshals Service doesn’t give up looking for people.” In fact, that was not the last that was heard about the three people who allegedly escaped from Alcatraz. This story has no ending as it seems, and the mystery will forever live.