MOUNTAIN VIEW (CBS 5) – CBS 5 has learned that one of the three men who kidnapped a busload of Chowchilla schoolchildren in 1976 and buried them in a quarry in Livermore has been paroled to a home in Mountain View after being released from state prison.
Richard Schoenfeld, 57, was released from the California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo on Wednesday.
There was no answer at the Mountain View home of his mother Friday, but people could be heard inside. CBS 5 was able to confirm that Schoenfeld was released to live with his mother.
Schoenfeld, his brother James, and Frederick Woods were in their early- to mid-20s when they ambushed a busload of schoolchildren from Dairyland Union School in Chowchilla, a small farm community about 35 miles northwest of Fresno in Madera County, on July 15, 1976.
The men left the bus camouflaged in a creek bed and drove the children and bus driver, Ed Ray, to the California Rock and Gravel Quarry in Livermore.
They sealed their victims in a large van that had been buried in a cave at the quarry and fitted to keep the children and driver hostage.
The kidnappers, all from wealthy families in the Peninsula communities of Atherton and Portola Valley, then demanded a $5 million ransom for the return of the group.
The hostages escaped from the buried van a little more than a day after they were first kidnapped when Ray and the two oldest children piled mattresses to the top of the van and forced their way out.
The three men received life sentences after pleading guilty in Alameda County Superior Court in 1977 to 27 counts of kidnapping for ransom.
The Mountain View Police Department is not commenting on camera, but released a statement saying “Richard Shoenfeld may be a high profile parolee, but he has been determent by experts to be a low risk to the community.”
Still, some Mountain View neighbors were not sure how Schoenfeld’s presence would impact the community.
“As the mother of four kids, I have to seriously consider. ‘Is he ok now? Is he rehabilitated?’ I like to give everybody a chance, and I’m no judge. But on the other hand, Will I be more cautious? Probably,” said neighbor Darla Richardson.
Shoenfeld will be required to check in with a parole officer often and wear a GPS ankle bracelet for remote monitoring.
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