California man convicted in 1976 Chowchilla school bus kidnapping is granted parole

One of three men who kidnapped 26 children and their school bus driver in Chowchilla, California, nearly 40 years ago has been granted parole.

The state Board of Parole Hearings on Wednesday granted parole to 63-year-old James Schoenfeld.

The Fresno Bee reports ( ) details of the decision to release Schoenfeld from a San Luis Obispo prison were not immediately available.

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesman Bill Sessa says the ruling will now go through an internal review that could take up to four months before a recommended parole date is sent to Gov. Jerry Brown.

Schoenfeld, his brother, Richard, and a friend, Fred Woods, were convicted of kidnapping 26 school students and their bus driver in 1976 in the hopes of collecting a $5 million ransom. The victims were imprisoned for 16 hours before they escaped.


Information from: The Fresno Bee,