david pujadó photography
Ye-Ye Vintage Shop. Serbia
Model: Jovana Trkulja
On sale: Ye-Ye Vintage Shop
On July 15, 1976, twenty-six students and their bus driver were kidnapped in Chowchilla, California, by armed men who blocked the highway around 4:00 pm. The pupils, who were attending Dairyland School for summer school, were being dropped off on their way back from a field trip at the Chowchilla fairgrounds' swimming pool. The kidnappers hid the bus in a drainage slough and drove them and bus driver around in two vans for 11 hours, eventually taking them to a quarry in Livermore, California. There, the kidnappers imprisoned the victims inside a buried moving van with a small amount of food and water, and a number of mattresses.
After many hours, bus driver Frank Edward "Ed" Ray and the students stacked the mattresses, enabling some of them to reach the opening at the top of the truck, which had been covered with a metal plate and weighed down with two 100–pound industrial batteries. They wedged the lid open with a stick, Ray moved the batteries, and they removed the remainder of the debris that blocked the entrance. After 16 hours underground, they emerged and walked to the quarry's guard shack near the Shadow Cliffs East Bay Regional Park. All were in good condition.
The truck was registered to the quarry owner's son, Frederick Newhall Woods IV. Under hypnosis the bus driver remembered the license number of one of the vans. Woods was arrested after fleeing to Vancouver, Canada. His accomplices, Richard and James Schoenfeld, surrendered to authorities in California. (James was caught shortly before he was able to do so).
The kidnappers had been unable to phone in their ransom demand because telephone lines to the Chowchilla Police Department were tied up by media calls and families searching for their children. A draft ransom note was also found. Some details of the crime corresponded to details in "The Day the Children Vanished", a story by Hugh Pentecost that was published in Alfred Hitchcock's Daring Detectives (1969). A copy of this book was in the Chowchilla public library, and police theorized that it had inspired the kidnappers.
All three were sentenced to life in prison. Richard Schoenfeld was released in 2012. James Schoenfeld was paroled August 7, 2015. Frederick Woods was denied parole on November 19, 2015 because he continued to minimize his crime and had disciplinary problems, including possession of a cell phone, pornography, and photos of naked children. He will not be eligible for another parole hearing for three years. Similar problems were noted at his 2012 parole hearing. Woods was married twice while in prison.