Parole backed for school bus kidnapper

April 6, 2011 at 1:54 PM
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SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif., April 6 (UPI) -- California has decided to parole one of the perpetrators of the infamous 1976 Chowchilla school bus seizure in 2021.

Meeting at the state prison in San Luis Obispo where Richard Schoenfeld, 56, is held, parole commissioners Tuesday ratified an earlier finding that he is no longer dangerous, The San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The lead prosecutor in the case, David Minier, now a retired judge, and retired detective Dale Fore, who led the investigation, support parole, as did the sentencing judge, the late Leo Deegan, said Schoenfeld's lawyer, Scott Handleman.

One of the 26 schoolchildren kidnapped, Jodi Heffington, 45, said she opposes Schoenfeld's release. So does bus driver Ed Ray, 89, his wife, Odessa, said.

The parole board repeatedly has denied release to the other kidnappers, Schoenfeld's brother, James, and Fred Woods.

The three men took over the school bus in Chowchilla at gunpoint, put Ray and the children in vans, drove them 100 miles north to Livermore, buried them in a quarry and demanded a $5 million ransom.

After napping, the men awoke to hear on the radio the victims had dug their way out after 16 hours.

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