Man Who Hijacked School Bus To Kidnap Children Granted Parole After 17 Tries

Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

Frederick Woods, who kidnapped school bus of children, granted parole – USA TODAY

Frederick Newhall Woods IV, James and Richard Schoenfeld, and their friends held up a school bus in 1976. They forced 26 children and their driver onto two vans with blacked-out windows and lowered everyone into a truck that was buried underground.

They demanded $5 million from the state Board of Education as a ransom, but the children and driver dug their way out after 16 hours. Schoenfeld explained that they targeted children because they were precious and wouldn’t fight back.

Woods and brothers Richard and James Schoenfeld pleaded guilty to kidnapping 26 children and their bus driver in Chowchilla, California, more than 45 years ago. The victims were held in deplorable conditions and were forced to breathe vomit and filth.

Jennifer Brown Hyde, a victim who was 9-years-old at the time of the kidnapping, told the parole board that the kidnapper’s mind was evil and that she wanted him to serve life.

Woods was approved for parole in March after previously being denied 17 times. Two survivors supported his release, but one suggested he consider getting treatment for his money addiction.

Woods is allegedly in fine financial shape despite spending almost his entire adult life in prison. He runs several businesses from prison, including a Christmas tree farm and a used car business.

Gov. Gavin Newsom asked the parole board to reconsider its decision to release Woods, because he said Woods continued to engage in financial related-misconduct in prison.

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John Nightbridge is a veteran reporter, researcher, and economic policy major from UCLA. Passionate about world issues and potential ways to solve them is a significant focus of his work. Writing freelance and reading the news are John's passions at work. Outside of work, it's all about sky diving, surfing, and stock market modeling.