By Saiyed M. Fauzan Ali
The Island of Alcatraz, which resides somewhere in the San Francisco Bay is cited among the most haunted places in the USA. There are a number of rumors, legends, and fantasies that surround this peculiar Island and its penitentiary, which is often called the devil’s fortress. The notorious penitentiary built on this estranged island has confined some of the famous bloodletters and bad men like Al Capone, Machine Gun Kelly, and Alvin Karpis. Many of these legendary lawbreakers called this place the end of the line. Moreover, there are many stories surrounding the island’s infamous escape attempts, however, nobody has ever absconded the island alive. From the time when the Island became a penitentiary in 1934 to the time when it was shut down in 1963, the steel bars at Alcatraz were closed behind over 1000 convicts, evildoers, and escape artists. The Island was never considered as a rehabilitation facility, but it was rather a place for punishment, and those who survived often made it at the cost of their sanity, or some would say their soul.
The Island has a dark history, even before the roughest convicts landed on its shores; the Island was used by the Native Americans. These people believed that the Island was possessed by evil spirits, and they would leave the criminals and delinquents on this Island all alone to be tortured and killed by the demons. The corpse of these ill-fated souls would then become a part of the Island’s soil. Later in the year 1934, a penitentiary was built on the Island, which opened its doors to some of the worst murderers, serial killers, rapists, and thieves.
The penitentiary still exists on the Island, bullet holes are still visible from the violently quelled riots that once took place on the Island, and the paintings, board games and signs of other activities can also be seen that describe how the prisoners passed their time. The legend and the stories about this place could make a perfect horror movie. However, the gruesome tales are true to their core, and that often haunts the visitors and tourists.
The Cellblock D is perhaps the most famous haunted place on the Island. The place was known as the hole, and prisoners with the poorest behavior would be confined in this place, and left in complete darkness with only a small hole on the ground to relieve them. At one point in the 1940’s a prisoner was locked in Cellblock D. After some time the prisoner started screaming and claimed that two glowing eyes were constantly staring at him. The wardens ignored him, believing that he is just seeking attention. However, the cell went completely quiet, and later they found his dead body. The autopsy revealed that the prisoner had died due to strangulation, which could not have been self-inflicted.
Similarly, Cellblock C is believed to be haunted by a demon. It was reported by Sylvia Brown, a famous paranormal investigator that she had witnessed a bald man in the Laundry room, who looked exactly like the famous Abie Maldowitz. What’s interesting is that Sylvia was not the only one who reported the sighting. A number of similar sightings have been reported by tourists and caretakers in Cellblock C laundry area. Abie Maldowitz was known as the Butcher, he was a contract killer before he was arrested, and later he was brutally murdered by an inmate at the laundry area in Cellblock C.
In the year 1938, Rufus Franklin along with two other cell inmates plotted an escape from the Island prison. They attacked a guard in the woodshop where they were laboring, and Rufus brutally killed the guard with a hammer. They broke the window and climbed on the rooftop. However, they couldn’t get too far as the guards on the tower open fired and one of them died, while the remaining two were severely injured. This wasn’t the only escape attempt in the history of Alcatraz. The escape attempt or the Battle of Alcatraz, which occurred in 1946, is perhaps the most deadly escape attempt in history, and it resulted in the death of several cell occupants and wardens.
In the year 1939, Rufus McCain and Henri Young planned an escape from the prison along with their partner Arthur Barker. They got to the shore and were almost successful until McCain realized that he couldn’t swim. The guards seized and opened fire, which resulted in the death of Barker. Young and McCain were put in solitary confinement for almost a year. Young blamed McCain for their failure, and tensions grew between the two. Until 1940 when Young snuck up into the tailor shop where McCain was working and stabbed him to death. Many people have reported the sighting of both Young and McCain fighting in the Solitary D-Block, and a number of visitors and caretakers have reported seeing a figure that resembles McCain stumbling in the halls of Block-D with blood gushing out from his torso, and the figure vanishes near the cell where McCain was kept.
The stories do not end here, a number of prisoners went insane, and some men even committed hideous suicides. For instance, Rube Persful chopped off all of his fingers, on one hand, using a hatchet while working in the woodshop, laughing he asked the guard to take care of the other hand as well. Ed Wutke used a sharpener blade to slit his jugular. Similarly, Joe Bowers jumped off the outer fence of the penitentiary and fell 75 feet to a certain death. With so many tragedies and so much negativity linked to Alcatraz, it’s no wonder that the Island is among the most haunted places in the world.
The Island has been famous for torture, punishment, deaths and gruesome murders, and what prisoners went through on this Island is a horror story in itself. Underneath the Block-A is a place called the dungeon. Prisoners were kept here for severe punishment, they were stripped naked, chained up to the walls, and were given no food. Although the screams from these unfortunate prisoners could not be heard in the rest of the prison, they can be heard today. A caretaker reported to hear some horrible screams coming from the dungeon but there was no one inside the cells. Hence, the Island has become an attraction for investigators, researchers, and bloggers of mystery and the paranormal.
As soon as the visitors dock on the Island, they can feel the heavy and depressing atmosphere. Human bones have been found buried on the island. The famous fog that hangs around the Island, the cold and cruel waters, and the depressing atmosphere adds up to the peculiar reputation of Alcatraz. Regardless of our beliefs in the paranormal, it is irrefutable that Alcatraz has a rich and dark history with demons of its own.
– Saiyed M. Fauzan Ali is an MBA/M. Phil specialized in Supply Chain Management. The author has worked in the past as a research analyst and critical reviewer, and he is a writing enthusiast.