The Escapists – Theodore Cole and Ralph Roe

The Escapists - Theodore Cole and Ralph Roe

Most of us are familiar with the June 1962 escape from Alcatraz involving inmates John and Clarence Anglin and Frank Morris.

The three of them are popularly known as the only men to ever break chains with ‘The Rock’.

But were these three inmates actually beaten to the punch by half a century?

In this article we look at the mystery surrounding Theodore Cole and Ralph Roe – were they the first men to escape the notorious Alcatraz?

Theodore And Ralph

It is thought that Theodore Cole and Ralph Roe were sent down to the Rock in 1925 when they were still in their mid-twenties.

They both arrived at the prison from Oklahoma but they had never met before their incarceration.

Cole had been found guilty of kidnapping whilst Roe was a known bank robber.

The pair of them cleverly spent around seven months creating a 22 centimeters (8.5 in) by 46 centimeters (18 in) hole in one of the iron-barred windows in the prison’s machine shop.

The Escape

On December 16, 1937, Cole and Roe managed to break their confinements and escape 30 minutes after roll call was conducted at 1:00 PM.

It was an extremely foggy day and that weather may well have aided their sneaky departure.

Alcatraz Island

The authorities were absolutely mortified by the successful escape attempt and spent the following several days combing the island and the opposite shoreline.

Cole and Roe were never found.

The Mystery

Most officials felt that the two men must of attempted a swim to shore, dying in the cold water in the process.

But certain sections were not too sure – they believed that an arranged boat could well have picked up the two men after their daring jailbreak.

The pair have never officially been declared dead, but their bodies have never been located.

When their escape attempt became public knowledge hundreds of sighting reports came in across the American Southwest.

In April 1940 an injured taxi driver claimed that his bullet wound had come from the gun of Theodore Cole. The man had been shot during a robbery targeting his cab.

Later that year a pair of hitchhikers reported taking a lift from a man who claimed to be Ralph Roe.

This man had a detailed explanation on how he and his partner had managed to break The Rock.

If you have any thoughts or opinions on the mystery of Theodore Cole and Ralph Roe, please leave them in the comment section below.

2 comments on “The Escapists – Theodore Cole and Ralph Roe

  1. Hi. Wow I did not know that somebody has ever escaped Alcatraz. I have been there and I think it is impossible if you don`t have a boat waiting for you. The water is freezing and I don`t think you could swim to the shore. Very nice article about this mystery escape. I love mysteries and will be checking you out for more stories.

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