Thomas R. Limerick

Last updated
Thomas Robert Limerick
Born(1902-01-07)January 7, 1902
Council Bluffs, Iowa
Died May 23, 1938(1938-05-23) (aged 36)
Alcatraz, California
Criminal charge Bank robbery
Criminal penalty Life imprisonment

Thomas Robert Limerick (January 7, 1902 May 23, 1938) was an American criminal, who took part in the third documented escape attempt from Alcatraz Island on the night of May 23, 1938.

Alcatraz Island island in San Francisco, California, United States of America

Alcatraz Island is located in San Francisco Bay, 1.25 miles (2.01 km) offshore from San Francisco, California, United States. The small island was developed with facilities for a lighthouse, a military fortification, a military prison (1828), and a federal prison from 1934 until 1963. Beginning in November 1969, the island was occupied for more than 19 months by a group of Native Americans from San Francisco, who were part of a wave of Native activism across the nation, with public protests through the 1970s. In 1972, Alcatraz became part of a national recreation area and received designation as a National Historic Landmark in 1986.



Thomas Limerick was born on January 7, 1902 [1] in Council Bluffs, Iowa. He grew up in a middle-class family until his father died when he was 15. His family was soon thrown into poverty and left Thomas, the oldest of 5 children, to get a job. Originally a boxcar bandit, he joined a gang of bank robbers headed by Maurice Denning based in Gage County, Nebraska in 1934. On August 23, 1934 the gang robbed a National Guard Armory, and between October and November of that year, robbed large banks in Hawarden, Iowa, Dell Rapids, South Dakota and Superior, Nebraska. Limerick was arrested in a nightclub in St. Joseph, Missouri on May 25, 1935. Limerick was sentenced to life imprisonment at Leavenworth Penitentiary, but later transferred to Alcatraz.

Council Bluffs, Iowa City in Iowa, United States

Council Bluffs is a city in and the county seat of Pottawattamie County, Iowa, United States. The city is the most populous in Southwest Iowa, and forms part of the Omaha (Nebr.) Metropolitan Area. It is located on the east bank of the Missouri River, across from the city of Omaha. Council Bluffs was known, until at least 1853, as Kanesville. It was the historic starting point of the Mormon Trail. Kanesville is also the northernmost anchor town of the other emigrant trails, since there was a steam powered boat to ferry their wagons, and cattle, across the Missouri River.

Gage County, Nebraska County in Nebraska, United States

Gage County is a county in the U.S. state of Nebraska. As of the 2010 United States Census, the population was 22,311. Its county seat is Beatrice. The county was created in 1855 and organized in 1857. It was formed from land taken from the Otoe in an 1854 treaty. The county was named for W.D. Gage, a Methodist minister.

Hawarden, Iowa City in Iowa, USA

Hawarden is a city in Sioux County, Iowa, United States. The population was 2,546 at the 2010 census. It is located on the Big Sioux River.

Alcatraz escape attempt

In the spring of 1938, Limerick, James Lucas, and Rufus Franklin planned an escape from Alcatraz. Their escape plan began by incapacitating an unarmed guard supervising a work detail on the top floor. Once the supervisor was rendered unconscious, the convicts would escape through a window to the rooftop, where they would incapacitate an armed guard and leave the island via a seized police boat. They enacted their escape plan on May 23, 1938 in the prison's mat shop, where they assaulted Custodial Officer Royal Cline with hammer blows to his head. They proceeded to the roof, where an armed guard shot both Franklin and Limerick, although Lucas wasn't shot. Other guards arrived at the scene. Franklin, Limerick, and Lucas were cornered and surrendered to the guards. [2]

James C. Lucas American criminal

James Crittenton Lucas was an American criminal who served a life sentence in Alcatraz. He is best known for being part of an attempted escape from Alcatraz Penitentiary in 1938, and for attacking Al Capone in the prison's laundry room on June 23, 1936.

Rufus William Franklin was an American criminal who served a life sentence in Alcatraz. He is best known for taking part in the third documented attempted escape from Alcatraz Prison with Thomas R. Limerick and James C. Lucas on the night of May 23, 1938.

Cline died of his injuries the next day, as did Limerick. [3] Lucas and the other surviving convict, Rufus Franklin, were tried for murder [4] [5] [6] and sentenced to life imprisonment. [7] [8]

Murder Unlawful killing of a human with malice aforethought

Murder is the unlawful killing of another human without justification or valid excuse, especially the unlawful killing of another human being with malice aforethought. This state of mind may, depending upon the jurisdiction, distinguish murder from other forms of unlawful homicide, such as manslaughter. Manslaughter is a killing committed in the absence of malice, brought about by reasonable provocation, or diminished capacity. Involuntary manslaughter, where it is recognized, is a killing that lacks all but the most attenuated guilty intent, recklessness.

Imprisonment in law is the specific state of being incarcerated or confined in an institutional setting such as a prison. Courts of the United States, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have recognized that the minimum period in an indeterminate sentence that was actually imposed by a court of law is the official term of imprisonment. In other words, any "street time" that was ordered by the court as part of the defendant's indeterminate sentence does not constitute term of imprisonment.

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  1. "Three Convicts Fail in Break at Alcatraz; Slug Guard; Two Are Shot, Third Cornered". New York Times. 1938-05-24. p. 1. Retrieved 2007-12-05.
  2. "Hammer Blow Kills Alcatraz Aide in Break: 2 Surviving Felons to Face Murder Charge; Third Slain in Flight". Washington Post. 1938-05-25. p. X1. ProQuest Historical Newspapers document 240807832.
  3. "Alcatraz Prisoners Hear Shooting Related by Guard". Los Angeles Times. 1938-11-05.
  4. "Court Calls for Bullets that Halted Convict Flight". Los Angeles Times. 1938-11-09.
  5. "Alcatraz Convicts Deny Killing Guard In Escape Attempt". Washington Post. 1938-11-23.
  6. "Killers of Alcatraz Guard Escape Execution; Jury Limits Penalty of Felons to Life Terms". New York Times. 1938-11-27. p. 1.
  7. "Alcatraz Pair Get Life". Los Angeles Times. 1938-11-27.