Man Who Kidnapped 26 Children, Buried Them Alive, Receives Parole After 45 Years

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Melanie Wilcox Contributor
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A man who kidnapped and buried a bus full of children and their driver was released for parole Friday, according to spokesperson Joe Orlando of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, CNN reported.

Frederick Newhall Woods, 70, and two co-conspirators kidnapped 26 children and their driver in Chowchilla, a northern California city in Madera County, in 1976, CNN reported. They buried the 27 captives alive in a quarry Woods’ father owned and then demanded $5 million ransom, according to CNN. (RELATED: Police Charge Woman For Allegedly Faking Her Own Kidnapping, Say She Received $30,000 For Victim Assistance)

The captives dug themselves out and escaped while Woods and Richard and James Schoenfeld slept, CNN reported. Woods, the last of the men still in prison, had his 18th parole hearing Friday at California Men’s Colony, a state prison in San Luis Obispo. He became eligible for parole in 1982, and Richard Schoenfeld was paroled in 2012 and James Schoenfeld was released in 2015, CNN reported.

After the parole board reviews the decision, Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom can either reject the grant or take no action and allow the parole decision to stand, according to CNN.

Many victims told CNN they still experienced anxiety and nightmares, including Darla Neal, age 10 at the time, who said she has “extreme anxiety.”

“I’m overwhelmed to the point that I had to leave work,” Neal said. “I tell myself I should be able to shake this off and deal with it. Yet here I am, a mess.”