For the past 40 years, they’ve experienced nightmares, hallucinations, and a feared that it would happen again. The 1976 Chowchilla kidnapping still haunts the 26 victims today.
On July 15, 1976, a bus filled with 26 elementary school students of Dairyland Elementary School and their bus driver was on their way back from a school field trip when their bus was blocked off on the highway in Chowchilla, California. Three armed men had hid in the drainage slough of the bus and eventually hijacked the bus, taking the victims to a quarry 100 miles north in Livermore, California.
The students, ages 5-14, and their bus driver, Frank Edward “Ed” Ray, were imprisoned in a buried van with very little food and water, and a few old mattresses. 16 hours later, Ray managed to reach the opening of the top of the van and dug his way out of the quarry. All were safe, but the nightmare didn’t end there.
While the kidnappers, Richard Schoenfeld, James Schoenfeld and Frederick Woods, were sentenced to life in prison, the victims experienced plenty of post traumatic stress disorder, suffering from panic attacks, nightmares involving kidnappings and death, and personality changes.
Now, James Schoenfeld will soon be out of prison on parol at 63 years old, the second kidnapper to be released, and victims are not taking the news well.
Lynda Carrejo Labendeira was 9 years old when she and her three sisters were among the victims on the bus when it was hijacked. She tells ABC News reporters, “I was nauseous and very tearful,” in regards to her initial reaction to the news.
According to ABC News, California Governor Jerry Brown has come under criticism for allowing James Schoenfeld to be paroled. But his office noted that the Governor can only overturn a parole board decision in murder cases, not kidnapping. The Governor could have asked the board to reconsider their decision, but felt after 20 parole hearings they were not likely to change their minds.
What are your thoughts about James Schoenfeld’s parol?