Chowchilla kidnapper released from CMC

August 8, 2015

bus 3One of the three men who kidnapped a busload of Chowchilla schoolchildren and their bus driver in 1976 was released Friday afternoon from the California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo County.

Last week Gov. Jerry Brown permitted the parole board’s decision to release James Schoenfeld, 63, to stand. Schoenfeld is slated to serve his parole in San Francisco County.

On July 15, 1976, James Schoenfeld, along with his brother Richard Schoenfeld and their friend Frederick Woods, kidnapped 26 children and an adult bus driver from their bus. The kidnappers hid the bus, and loaded the children— who were ages 5 to 14 — and the driver into two vans they drove to a quarry near Livermore.

The kidnappers then forced their victims through a hole into a buried trailer stocked with mattresses, food and water and equipped with fans and ventilation. The bus driver freed himself and the children before the kidnappers had made their $5 million ransom demand.

The three men plead guilty and were eventually sentenced to life in prison with the potential for parole.
Richard Schoenfeld was released on June 20, 2012. Woods remains in prison after he was denied parole for the 14th time in 2012.

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  1. Jorge Estrada says:

    When some asks what wrong with our culture, cite this as an example! Today’s culture makes a profession out of everything because the civil process gets well funded by the taxpayers.

    (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down
  2. rockhound1965 says:

    This scared the cr add people out of a generation of children. Thank god for the bus driver & children who did not wait to be rescued….they saved themselves.

    Remember: these men had NO INTENTION on letting the kidnapped go or to help the authorities find them once the reward was paid. They intended for everyone on the bus to suffocate.

    (1) 3 Total Votes - 2 up - 1 down
  3. black sheep says:

    Once you let out everybody in prison/jail for growing/”selling” a plant, then maybe I might think about understanding the possibility of paroling people who literally kidnapped a fn busload of children.

    (14) 22 Total Votes - 18 up - 4 down
    • womanwhohasbeenthere says:

      Agree – let’s major on the majors.

      I’d like to know how the children and parents are faring today after this horrific crime.

      Finally, at least he is not being paroled here. There is a state law requiring the parolee to return to his county of commitment. But often the wife/family members move to SLO and then he ends up here.

      If I lived across the street from him I might put a big sign of the bus in my front yard, and maybe a few dolls, to remind him of what he did, every time he walked out his front door. But in SLO you can’t do that, it’s against the sign ordinance and would probably be considered harassment.

      (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down

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