Parole denied for last Chowchilla school bus kidnapper

CHOWCHILLA, Calif. (KFSN) -- The last of the three Chowchilla school bus kidnappers will remain in prison.

The state parole board refused to release Fred Woods on Thursday. He and two other men were convicted of the 1976 kidnapping of 26 Chowchilla school children and their bus driver.

The decision by the parole board to keep Woods in prison is applauded by Madera County DA David Linn. "I am ecstatic. Today was a victory for the people of California, the County of Madera, and the people of Chowchilla. Mr. Woods will be staying here for at least another three years."

While woods two accomplices, Richard and James Schoenfeld, were eventually paroled, it was Woods behavior in prison that appeared to sway the board.
Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Jill Klinge has been involved in all three cases. "He's different in several ways, first of all, he's received discipline since his incarceration and he's received two serious disciplines since his last parole hearing for possession of cell phones, and it's not necessarily the acts that created the discipline it's his mindset he still has, the same criminal mindset, the same way of thinking since he planned this crime so long ago."

For Lynda Carrejo Labendeira who was just 10 at the time, seeing Woods was not easy. "I try not to look at him-- I try not to look at that at all."

But both she and Jodi Heffington were pleased with the outcome. "I feel better he will stay in for a couple more years. I feel the board, the commissioners got it right this time," said Heffington.

A third victim attended the hearing, but Rebecca Reynolds came to urge the board to let Woods out.

Woods was denied parole for the 16th time and his next chance will come in three years in San Luis Obispo.

Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.