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James Crittenton LUCAS





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Alcatraz escape attempt - Stabbed Al Capone in prison
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: May 23, 1938
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: June 11, 1912
Victim profile: Royal Kline (custodial worker)
Method of murder: Hitting with a hammer
Location: Alcatraz Penitentiary, California, USA
Status: Sentenced to life imprisonment in 1938. Died on November 28, 1998

James C. Lucas (19121963) 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.


Lucas was originally sentenced to thirty years' imprisonment for bank robbery and violation of the Dyer Act (interstate trafficking of stolen vehicles). He arrived at Alcatraz in January 1935 from the Texas State Prison and was known there as James "Texas Bank Robber" Lucas.

Attack on Capone

On June 23, 1936, Lucas stabbed Al Capone in the back with a pair of shears from the prison barber shop. Capone had been working in the laundry area 10 feet (3 m) away. Lucas was sent to solitary confinement for his brutal attack on Capone.

Alcatraz escape attempt

In the spring of 1938, James Lucas, Thomas R. Limerick and Rufus Franklin planned an escape from Alcatraz. Their escape plan began by incapacitating an unarmed custodial worker supervising a work detail on the top floor. Once the supervising worker 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 worker Royal Kline 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.

The custodial worker died of his injuries the next day, and Thomas Limerick, one of the wounded convicts, also died. Lucas and the other surviving convict, Rufus Franklin, were tried for murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.


James Crittenton LUCAS was born on Jun 11 1912 in Midland, TX. He died on Nov 28 1998 in Sacramento, Sacramento County, California. Lucas went down in the history books for stabbing Al Capone while at Alcatraz.

Name: James C. Lucas
Age: 26
Inmate #: 224-AZ
Crime: bank robbery and auto theft
Sentence: 30 years
Notes: arrived at Alcatraz in January 1935. Also wanted in Texas, where he was sentenced for life for escape, bank robbery and assault to murder. In 1936, he had attacked Al Capone with a pair of scissors, reportedly out of resentment for Capone's refusal to join in a prison mutiny earlier that year. Bureau of Prisons: "transferred from Alcatraz (no date available), paroled in April 1958, violated parole and returned to custody, released from USP McNeil Island camp via presidential commutation of sentence."

Tried to escape from Alcatraz on 23 May 1938, Tuesday.

Shortly after 2 p.m., Franklin, Limerick and Jimmy Lucas made their way from the woodworking shop over to the top floor of the factory building. They brought along with them a hammer, lead weights and pieces of iron. Senior custodial officer, R.C. Cline, was patrolling the floor unarmed. The three convicts without warning beat Cline repeatedly over the head with the hammer.

The three then went out of a window and crawled up onto the roof after cutting through barbwire. There, they attacked the armed guard on-duty by flinging the lead weights and pieces of iron at the glass tower from three directions. The shatter-proof glass held up against the barrage and only one lead weight managed to get through, slightly injuring the guard's leg. The guard opened fire and hit Franklin in the shoulder and Limerick in the head. Lucas gave up as soon as other guards rushed up to the roof. Their goal was to attempt to disarm other guards with the weapon from the first guard, seize the prison boat and make their way off the island.

Limerick died from the wound inflicted to his head that evening in the prison hospital. R.C. Cline, 36, died the following day at the Marine Hospital from the wounds inflicted by the convicts. He left behind a wife and four daughters. Franklin and Lucas were given life sentences for the murder of Cline.



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