Man convicted in largest mass kidnapping in U.S. approved for parole

File photo: Florida Department of Corrections

March 30 (UPI) — A man convicted of kidnapping a bus full of children more than 40 years ago has been approved for parole, according to California’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Frederick Newhall Woods, 70, had a parole hearing Friday at the California Men’s Colony, his 18th hearing since being incarcerated.

Newhall first became eligible for parole in 1982, according to inmate records.

Newhall and two brothers, Richard Schoenfeld and James Schoenfeld, kidnapped 26 children and their bus driver in Chowchilla, Calif., in 1976. It remains the largest mass kidnapping in U.S. history. The three men said they were inspired by the 1971 movie “Dirty Harry.”

The three men then drove the captives more than 100 miles away. They were buried alive in a quarry owned by Woods’ father and the kidnappers then attempted to extort a $5 million ransom which proved unsuccessful.

The bus driver and children managed to dig themselves out of the quarry and escape while their captors slept.

All three kidnappers were originally given 27 life sentences without the possibility of parole.

Richard Schoenfeld was paroled in 2012, while James Schoenfeld was released in 2015.

The parole decision will become final within 120 days, after which, the state’s governor has 30 days to review it.

The governor can then can either allow the decision to stand or refer it to the full parole board for review.

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