Last person imprisoned for biggest kidnapping in U.S. history released on parole

The last person left serving a sentence related to the largest kidnapping in US history was granted parole on Tuesday after being in prison for nearly 45 years.

Frederick Woods, now 70 years old, was only 24 when he and two others kidnapped a school bus filled with children and their bus driver in Chowchilla, California. The kidnappers drove the bus 100 miles away to a quarry in Livermore, where the children and bus driver were forced into a moving truck which had been buried six feet underground. The hostages were held for a ransom of $5 million for 16 hours until they were able to dig their way out as their captors slept.

Woods and his accomplices were each given 27 separate sentences – one for each victim – of seven years to life in prison. Originally the sentences were given without the possibility of parole, but upon appeal, possibility of parole was granted because the men did not cause any bodily harm to the victims.

Woods is the last of the three men to be released on parole. Richard and James Schoenfeld, the two brothers who helped Woods kidnap the victims, were released in 2012 and 2015, respectively. 

One of the victims, Lynda Carrejo Labendeira, who was only 10 years old at the time of the kidnapping, told the Associated Press the incident still affects her life today. “Insomnia keeps me up all hours of the night,” she said. “I don’t sleep so that I don’t have to have any nightmares at all,” she said. 

Woods’ attorney, Dominique Banos, said in a statement after parole was granted, “In sum, Mr. Woods has shown a change in character for the good, great maturity, insight and remorse for the arrogance and poor choices he made nearly 50 years ago.” 




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Laura is a freelance writer out of Maryland and a mom of three. Her background is in political science and international relations, and she has been doing political writing and editing for 17 years. Laura has also written parenting pieces for the Today Show and is currently working on writing a collection of remarkable true stories about normal people. She writes for FBA because unbiased news is vital to unity, and readers deserve the facts free of opinion.

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