Richard Schoenfeld, one of the three men responsible for the largest mass kidnapping in U.S history, has been granted parole and is due to be released sometime with in the next two weeks after serving 36 years in prison
On July 15, 1976, Mr. Schoenfeld, his brother, James Schoenfeld, and Fred Newhall Woods IV, took over a school bus of 26 children, ages 5 to 14, and Mr. Ed Ray, their school bus driver. The kidnappers hid the school bus under brush in a drainage ditch and transported Mr. Ray and the 26 children to a Rock Quarry in Livermore, California.
Once at the quarry, the kidnappers entombed Mr. Ray and the children in a moving van buried on the Quarry property. After 16 hours being buried under ground, Mr. Ray and the children managed to dig their way out of their make shift grave and escape their kidnappers. All victims survived their ordeal.
Law enforcement uncovered the moving van and discovered a ransom note demanding 5 million dollars. It was discovered that the moving van had been buried on the Quarry property for approximately a year before the kidnapping took place. The Quarry owners son, Fred Newhall Woods IV , Richard Schoenfeld, and James Schoenfeld were all convicted of 27 counts of kidnapping for ransom and three counts of kidnapping with bodily harm, which normally carries a sentence of life without parole.
The case sparked world-wide head lines and, even today, is known as one of the most famous tales of California Lore. In 1999, a movie starring Karl Malden, told the harrowing story of the Chowchilla School Bus Kidnapping, the young victims, and their courageous Bus driver’s ordeal. Mr. Ed Ray, died in May of 2012 at the age of 91.
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