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Parole granted to last Chowchilla school bus hijacker

Hijacked a school bus full of California children in 1976 with a ransom of $5 million The last three men convicted as part of the "largest mass kidnapping in U.S. history," prosecutors, have been released by state parole boards.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday he paroled 70-year-old Frederick Woods after two commissioners proposed his release in March. requested the Board to reconsider its decision to. He denied his parole 17 timesbut the board confirmed the decision. Because the governor had not been convicted of murder, the governor could not prevent Woods' release and could only urge the parole board to take a closer look.

Woods and his two accomplices. , brothers Richard and James Schoenfeld, were from wealthy families in the San Francisco Bay Area when they kidnapped 26 children and a bus driver near Chowchilla, about 125 miles southeast of San Francisco.

Frederick Woods California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

Three Buried Children ages 5 to 14 and the bus driver ride in an old moving van east of San Francisco with little to no ventilation, lighting, water, food, or bathroom facilities. Victims were able to dig their own way over a day later.

"Young children don't have a great sense of time... There was no sunlight,” survivor Jennifer Brown Hyde said in “48 Hours,” in 2019. It was caved was just hopeless."

Woods, then 24, became a key figure in the case after police connected him to the quarry where the van was buried. became. His father owned the place.

Authorities then searched Woods' father's estate and found a mountain of evidence, including a draft ransom note, 48 Hours reported.

An arrest warrant has been issued. Richard Schoenfeld turned himself in, but Woods and James Schoenfeld fled California. Once they were all arrested, they pleaded guilty to several charges but refused to plead guilty to eight charges of bodily harm, according to "48 Hours." However, all were found guilty of all charges and sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole.

In 1980, Judge William Newsom, the father of the current governor, was on an appeals committee that would commute the man's life sentence and give him an opportunity for parole. After he retired, he sought their release in 2011, noting that no one was seriously injured during the kidnapping.

A court of appeals released Richard on his 2012, then-government, Jerry Brown parole James on his 2015.

However, Newsom stated that Woods "continued to be involved in financial-related misconduct in prison,"at Christmas he smuggled cell phones into the tree about running the farm. Used to provide advice. , gold mining operations, car dealerships, 

Woods' actions "continue to show he's in for the money," said the Madera County District Attorney's Office. Sally Moreno said in opposition to his parole...and in 2019, Sheriff Ed Bates said on "48 Hours" that he thought Woods was a "sociopath." 66} chowchilla-mug-combo.jpg

From left, Fred Woods, James Schoenfeld, center, brother Richard Schoenfeld Alameda County Sheriff's Office

Moreno said after the verdict that he was angry, frustrated and fearful of the state of society "because justice was mocked in Madera County." Even after burying them alive, committing their crimes, and spending time in prison ignoring the law, they still get out of prison.

Woods was ineligible to attend in person on Tuesday, but at his parole hearing in March he felt he needed money to be accepted by his parents, saying, "I was selfish at the time. I was immature," he said. His most recent transgression was to benefit a trust fund left to him by his late parents.

"I didn't need the money. I wanted the money," Woods said of his ransom demand.

His attorney, Dominic Banos, said Wednesday that the parole board recognized that Woods had "displayed a change in character of goodwill" and said that "the risk remains low and he will be released from prison." When asked, he poses no danger or threat to the community.

His three former inmates who served time with Woods urged parole officials to release him, but four victims or their relatives accused Woods of wrongdoing in prison. The act shows that Woods still sees himself as privileged, he said. Several of Woods' victims have previously supported his release.

Her then 10-year-old Lynda Carrejo Labendeira fled while children lit flashlights and candlelight while "coffins crumbled like makeshift dungeons." I remember how I struggled.

"You can't choose random flashbacks every time you see a van like the one we were transported to," she told the board.

"I have insomnia and can't sleep all night," she said. ``I don't sleep so I don't have nightmares.''

Jennifer Brown Hyde, then nine years old, said, ``I was buried alive, in a van with no food, water, or toilet in over 100 degrees Celsius. I remembered the lifelong impact of being driven for 11 hours."

"His mind is still evil and trying to get what he wants," she told the board. "I want him to serve a life sentence in the same way that he served a lifetime dealing with PTSD because of his sense of privilege.

She said Wednesday that the family Although disappointed, she said, "It's time to close this chapter and continue living the blessed life that has been given to me." praised.

Newsom notes that Woods qualifies for consideration, both because he was only 24 when he committed the crime, and because he is now older. Admitted. Woods, who once studied police at his college in the community, also said he was taking steps to improve himself in prison.

In the 2019 "48 Hours" special, other survivors spoke about the psychological effects of abduction.

Larry Park told CBS News' David He told Benyo that he had become an enraged child after his kidnapping. His parents feared he might turn violent and put him in an institution for juvenile offenders when he was 15 years old. "I was smoking crack. I was drinking acid. …and I was just mad."

  • Gavin Newsom
  • California
  • Jerry Brown
  • Kidnapping
  • Crime
  • San Francisco

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