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 Joseph Paul Cretzer

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Joseph Paul Cretzer

  • Birth 17 Apr 1911 Anaconda, Deer Lodge County, Montana, USA
  • Death 4 May 1946 San Francisco, San Francisco County, California, USA
  • Burial Colma, San Mateo County, California, USA
  • Memorial ID 7010617

Criminal. As a Bay Area bank robber, he was the most feared bank robber on the West Coast during the Depression, earning the distinction of Public Enemy No. 5. After his imprisonment, he was caught trying to escape from McNeil Island Prison, so he was sent to Alcatraz. In May 1941 he and three others attempted to escape The Rock, but they failed. After spending 5 years in solitary, he threw into another escape plan with Bernard Coy, Marvin Hubbard, Buddy Thompson, Sam Shockley, and Clarence Carnes. The resulting breakout attempt, known as the "Battle of Alcatraz", began on May 2, 1946. In a spectacular plan, the plotters gained access to the gun gallery and took nine guards hostage, but the plan failed due to a misplaced key. Furious that all hope of escape was gone, Joseph Cretzer shot down each of the hostages, killing one. Carnes, Thompson, and Shockley returned to their cells while the remaining three shot it out with prison personnel and US Marines. The fantastic siege lasted for 41 hours, with hundreds of grenades and SHAPE bombs dropped into the cell house to dislodge the escapees. Cretzer and his two partners, Coy and Hubbard, were found dead on the morning of May 4. His body was cremated by his wife at the Cypress Lawn Memorial Cemetery.

Bio by: Dennis Rice






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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Dennis Rice
  • Added: 13 Dec 2002
  • Find A Grave Memorial 7010617
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Joseph Paul Cretzer (17 Apr 1911–4 May 1946), Find A Grave Memorial no. 7010617, citing Cypress Lawn Memorial Park, Colma, San Mateo County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .