SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — One of three convicted kidnappers who was involved in the notorious Chowchilla school bus kidnapping nearly 40 years ago was granted parole last week, KSBY reports.
Gov. Jerry Brown allowed parole for James Schoenfeld, 63, after he served nearly 40 years in the California Men’s Colony, according to KSBY.
The California Parole Board moved to grant parole to Schoenfeld at his 20th hearing in April, CNN reports. Schoenfeld was convicted in the 1976 kidnapping of 26 students and their school bus driver.
As previously reported, Schoenfeld, his brother, Richard, and their friend, Fred Woods, hijacked a school bus in Chowchilla and imprisoned the children and bus driver in a buried moving van on July 15, 1976. The three planned to demand a $5 million ransom. 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.
James Schoenfeld will be released no later than Wednesday, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation told CNN. His brother was paroled in 2012 and Woods, the third kidnapper, may have another parole hearing this fall, KSBY reports. (As previously reported, Woods was denied parole for the 13th time in November 2012.)