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Court Orders Release Of Chowchilla Bus Kidnapper

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Chowchilla, kidnapping, quarry,

Investigators at a Livermore quarry where kidnapped Chowchilla schoolchildren were buried, July, 1976. (CBS)

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS / AP) — An appeals court has ordered that an infamous Chowchilla bus kidnapper be immediately released from prison, unless state officials appeal the decision.

The 1st District Court of Appeal on Tuesday said Richard Schoenfeld has served his sentence after 34 years behind bars and should be released from prison as soon as possible.

The appellate court said the Board of Parole Hearings unfairly set his release date for 2021 even though it concluded he wasn’t a threat to society.

The court ordered Schoenfeld released immediately unless prison officials appeal to the California Supreme Court. A California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesman couldn’t be reached for comment late Friday.

Schoenfeld his brother and a friend each pleaded guilty in 1977 to holding 26 students and their bus driver hostage in a buried truck. All escaped unharmed.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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