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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Free Chowchilla Kidnappers: Supporters Say They Were Just 'Dumb Rich Kids'

Posted By on Thu, Feb 24, 2011 at 7:48 AM

Not so nice kids turn into very nice inmates
  • Not so nice kids turn into very nice inmates

SF Weekly readers might recall the famous case of the three wealthy Peninsula men who in 1976 kidnapped a busload of children, sealed them up, and buried them in a failed ransom attempt.

Well, those three rich kids are now middle-aged and up for parole -- again -- and supporters say they have served enough time in prison -- let them out.

Supporters gathered in San Francisco yesterday to call for the release of the three men who have been up for parole 48 times over the years. Even the investigators who helped put the Chowchilla kidnappers behind bars more than 30 years ago are now calling them "model inmates."

It was July 1976 when Rick Schoenfeld and Jim and Fred Woods ambushed a

school bus in Chowchilla, kidnapping two dozen kids between ages 5 and 14 -- and the bus driver. They drove them to a Livermore  quarry and held them hostage, demanding $5 million in ransom from California.

The bus driver escaped and soon the three men were arrested and sentenced to life in prison.  Over the years, supporters have called for their release, but the parole board has kept the three men -- who were in their 20s at the time -- in prison.

"They were dumb rich kids," said Dale Fore, who was one of the lead investigators of the case. "How much time do you want out of these guys?"

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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.


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