SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The last of three convicted kidnappers who was involved in the notorious Chowchilla school bus kidnapping nearly 40 years ago is seeking parole, the Associated Press reports.
Frederick Woods, 64, has a parole hearing scheduled for Thursday, according to the news source. Supporters include a congresswoman and a retired state appellate judge, who said that Woods has served enough time and should be released, the Associated Press reports. In Woods' last parole hearing, in November 2012, he insisted that the men hadn’t intended to hurt the children, but he was denied parole for the 13th time.
Woods and his friends, brothers James and Richard Schoenfeld, hijacked a school bus in Chowchilla and imprisoned the 26 children and bus driver aboard in a buried moving van on July 15, 1976. The three planned to demand a $5 million ransom from the state board of education. However, after 16 hours, the bus driver, Ed Ray, and some of the students were able to break through a covered opening in the van's ceiling and get everyone to safety.
The three men had staked out several school districts before choosing Dairyland Union School District, which they thought was located in an area rural enough for a hijacking during the day with no one noticing, and they followed the bus for weeks to learn its route, according to the Associated Press.
As previously reported, James Schoenfeld was released on parole in August, and Richard Schoenfeld received parole in 2012. Jodi Heffington-Medrano, Jeffrey Brown and Lynda Carrejo Labendeira, who were part of the group of students who were kidnapped, told the news source that they oppose Woods’ potential parole and feel betrayed by the release of the other convicted kidnappers.
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