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Chowchilla kidnapper released after more than 35 years in prison

June 21, 2012 |  2:01 pm

Richard Allen SchoenfeldOne of three men who kidnapped a busload of schoolchildren from Chowchilla, Calif., in 1976 has been released from custody after after serving more than 35 years in state prison, authorities said Thursday.

Richard Allen Schoenfeld was released on parole to an undisclosed location late Wednesday, state prison officials said. He will be monitored 24 hours a day with a global positioning device.

An appeals court ordered Schoenfeld's release earlier this year on the grounds that the parole board had unfairly set his release date for 2021 even though it had found that he was no longer a threat to society. He had been denied parole 16 other times.

In the sensational case, Schoenfeld and two other men kidnapped 26 students and an adult bus driver on July 15, 1976. After the school bus was hidden in a drainage slough, the captives were imprisoned inside a  moving van that was buried in a quarry in Livermore.

With the help of the bus driver, the children managed to escape through a hole in the van's roof when their kidnappers took a nap before calling in their ransom demands.

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-- Dan Weikel

Photo: An undated picture of Richard Allen Schoenfeld. Credit: California Department of Corrections

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