Parole denied for final 1976 Chowchilla kidnapper

The last of three men convicted of kidnapping 26 Chowchilla schoolchildren in 1976, then burying them alive underground for ransom, was denied parole for the 16th time Thursday.

Frederick Woods, 64, is the final convicted kidnapper who remains in prison. Brothers Richard and James Schoenfeld were released on parole in 2012, and in August this year, respectively.

Woods can reapply for parole in three years.

Each man was given a life sentence for hijacking a schoolbus from Dairyland Elementary School in Chowchilla on July 15, 1976, then forcing the students and their busdriver into a van underground with food, water, and mattresses.

The men demanded a $5 million ransom.

After around 16 hours, Frank Edward Ray, the driver, along with help from some of the students, stacked the mattresses and opened a hole to where they were all buried around 50 miles east of San Francisco.

All of the victims were then able to escape what was the largest mass kidnapping in U.S. history.

Some of the victims say they still suffer from panic attacks and anxiety due to the ordeal, and want all the men to remain in prison.

Others, including a Congresswoman and a retired state appellate judge according to the Associated Press, argue the men all paid their dues and should be released.

Madera County District Attorney David Linn attended Thursday’s hearing, and stated previously he wanted Woods to remain behind bars.