Chowchilla Survivors Recall Kidnapping Nightmare More Than 40 Years Later

More than four decades since they were abducted and buried alive, the survivors of the Chowchilla kidnappings will publicly relive the agonizing moment in an upcoming TV show.

In an episode of CBS’ 48 Hours: Live To Tell, airing tonight, Saturday, October 12, details will be provided about the horrifying crime that shocked the nation.

On July 15, 1976, Frederick Woods and brothers Richard and James Schoenfeld executed their “Dirty Harry” inspired plan and kidnapped a group of 26 summer school students along with their bus driver Frank Edwards Ray in the small town of Chowchilla, California.

Ray was driving the Dairyland Elementary School kids back from a trip to the swimming pool, when the three men, armed with pantyhose pulled over their heads, blocked the road and ordered everyone off the bus and onto two vans.

After being driven around for 11 hours in complete darkness, they arrived at their destination: a rock quarry near Livermore. There, they were forced to climb into a van that was buried more than 12 feet below the ground. The captors then shoveled dirt over the roof of the van before placing two industrial batteries on top. They intended on holding the kids for a ransom of $5 million.

The children were screaming and frightened after being buried alive.

Marshall, one of the oldest children in the group, proclaimed he wouldn’t die without a fight, springing Ray into action.

The bus driver devised a plan for their escape. They stacked the mattresses on top of each other and used slats that eventually helped get rid of both the plate and the batteries used to enclose them.

Fortunately, the villains were taking a nap and hadn’t even called in the ransom demand, when their victims, who’d been locked up for 16 hours, freed themselves.

They walked to the quarry’s guard station near the Shadow Cliffs East Bay National Park, where authorities were called and inquiries about the whereabouts of the missing children were finally answered.

At the scene of the crime, police discovered the truck was registered to the mastermind, Woods, the son of the quarry owner. The unused ransom note was also found.

The Schoenfeld brothers went into hiding in California before turning themselves in, while Woods, who fled to Vancouver, was eventually arrested. All three of the men pled guilty to kidnapping charges and were sentenced to life in prison.

However, the brothers have been released on parole. Though Richard was the only one

Source:: Radar OnlineRadar Online


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