Chowchilla Kidnappers on Life After Prison

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Friday marked the 40th anniversary of the Chowchilla school bus kidnapping. While two of the three perpetrators, brothers Richard and James Schoenfeld, have been released on parole and have not granted media interviews, they spoke to a friend and agreed to have their limited comments published by the Fresno Bee.

In the notorious incident, a trio of young men from wealthy Northern California hijacked a school bus with 26 students and a driver on board.

The trio forced the students and driver onto two separate vans and drove them around for approximately 11 hours before moving them into another van that was buried in a rock quarry. 

The perpetrators had placed 14 mattresses inside this van, and eventually Ray and some of the children were able to use the mattresses to climb out of the vehicle and then dig their way out. All 26 children and Ray managed to escape after 16 total hours of captivity.

Today, James, 64, and Richard, 62, live with their mother, 93, who suffered a severe stroke years ago. Richard has become her full-time caregiver, while James does architectural drafting work, a skill he picked up during his nearly four-decade prison term.

“We’re just thankful to be able to help our mother this way,” Richard reportedly said. “She made many sacrifices for us over the years.”

The brothers reportedly would not comment extensively on their lives.

Frederick Woods, the third kidnapper, was refused parole last November.