Valdosta Daily Times

Top News

June 20, 2013

Alcatraz escapee’s sister returns to robbery scene

COLUMBIA, Ala. — Standing in the vault her brothers robbed 55 years ago, Marie Anglin Widner gasped.

“They really went in here,” she said, turning to fully take in the surroundings at the old Bank of Columbia. “Wow.”

The south Georgia woman remembers her brothers - John William (J.W.), Clarence and Alfred Anglin - as rambunctious but nonviolent kids trying desperately to escape poverty in Donalsonville, Ga.

“They never harmed anybody,” said Marie, 77, one of 14 Anglin siblings. “They wouldn’t even hurt a flea. They were mischievous young boys. It got a little bigger and a little bigger, and then this. And this was wrong, very wrong.”

Marie’s husband, Frank Widner, considered J.W. a friend.

“I thought the world of him,” he said.

After federal authorities captured them in Ohio days later, the Anglin brothers were sentenced to federal prison.

“That caused a lot of hurt,” Marie said.

After multiple escape attempts, two of them, J.W. and Clarence, eventually landed at the maximum-security prison on Alcatraz Island in northern California.

“The reason they sent them to Alcatraz was because they couldn’t keep them anywhere else they put them,” Marie said.

J.W. and Clarence worked with fellow convicts Frank Morris and Allen West at Alcatraz to hatch an escape plan that would eventually be immortalized in a Clint Eastwood film called “Escape from Alcatraz.”

While it’s never been proven, Anglin family members believe the brothers successfully escaped in 1962 and are still alive.

“I know they made it,” Marie said. “A U.S. Marshall told us he knew they made it. He said they found the raft on Angel Island, footprints leading away from it, and a car was stolen that night. He said they did make it.”

Frank is also certain the brothers survived.

“On the first Christmas they escaped, her momma and daddy got a Christmas card and it was signed ‘Joe and Jerry,”’ Frank said. “I took the Christmas card and compared the handwriting, and I can’t remember which one it was, but it was identical to one of (the brothers’) handwriting.”

Despite their strong viewpoint, family members insist they haven’t had direct contact with the brothers.

“We have had people tell us they have seen them, and we have our suspicions, but none of us have seen them,” said David Widner, Marie’s son. “(The family) would really like to know where they’re at.”

If the brothers were still alive, Clarence would be 82 and J.W. would be 83.

Marie doesn’t know if she’ll ever see them again, but she knows what she’ll do if she gets the chance.

“I’d never turn them loose. I would hug ‘em and love ‘em and never turn ‘em loose,” Marie said. “I believe they’re alive somewhere out there. I have no idea where. I would love to know.”

For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Valdosta Daily Times e-Edition, or our print edition

1
Text Only
Top News
  • GMC Valdosta holding Admissions Day

    Georgia Military College Valdosta will be hosting Admissions Day on Tuesday from 8-6 p.m.

    April 18, 2014

  • Color Me Free fun run planned

    South Georgia House of Hope is having a Color Me Free 5k Fun Run/Walk April 26 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., to emphasize Alcohol Awareness Month. All funds raised will benefit South Georgia House of Hope, which is a long-term residential home for women recovering from drug and alcohol addiction and abuse.

    April 18, 2014

  • Another arrest made in kidnapping

    Another arrest was made in the kidnapping of a North Carolina prosecutor’s father, federal investigators said Thursday.
    Quantavious Thompson was taken into custody late Wednesday afternoon, FBI spokeswoman Shelley Lynch said in a statement. Details on his arrest weren’t immediately available.

    April 18, 2014

  • Firetruck answering call slams into restaurant

    April 17, 2014

  • Bat Fungus1.jpg Bat-killing fungus spreads in Georgia

    Black Diamond Tunnel sits just outside the city of Clayton in the northeast corner of Georgia. Today, the man-made tunnel is the state’s largest known winter shelter for some of Georgia’s 16 bat species. It’s also the latest site in the state to fall victim to white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that’s killed more than 6 million bats in the eastern half of the U.S.

    April 17, 2014 3 Photos

  • Odd Claw Machine Todd.jpg Nebraska toddler gets stuck inside claw machine

    Authorities say a toddler has been reunited with his mother after employees found him playing inside a claw crane machine at a Nebraska bowling alley.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Boston Marathon_Stew.jpg Boston Marathon organizers confident of safe race

    The arrest of a man with a rice cooker in his backpack near the Boston Marathon finish line led police to step up patrols Wednesday, while organizers sought to assure the city and runners of a safe race next week.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • APTOPIX Ukraine_Stew.jpg Combat vehicles in east Ukraine fly Russian flag

    A column of armored vehicles flying Russian flags drove into a Ukrainian city controlled by pro-Russian insurgents Wednesday, dampening the central government’s hopes of re-establishing control over restive eastern Ukraine.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • S. Ga. river flood warning issued

    S. Ga. river flood warning issued

    April 17, 2014

  • Detroit still needs $350M from state lawmakers

    Pressure was building Wednesday for Michigan lawmakers to commit $350 million to Detroit pensions, a day after the city reached tentative agreements with pension funds and a retiree group to reduce payouts.

    April 17, 2014

Top News
Poll

What you think about school and workplace rules about Facebook friends?

There have to be rules.
No need for rules, just use common sense.
If people want to be friends, what is the big deal?
Nobody uses Facebook anymore.
     View Results