Chowchilla Kidnapping 48 Hours—The 1976 Chowchilla Kidnapping story makes its rounds on CBS 48 Hours this weekend in the episode titled: “Live to Tell: The Chowchilla Kidnapping.” It’s a look back at the story of 26 child bus riders who were abducted and buried under a rock quarry in Livermore, California before finally escaping. The disturbing true-crime also inspired a made-for-TV-movie.
No one was murdered. But many of the 26 victims have had a hard time forgetting the troubling ordeal and moving on with their lives. Viewers will hear tearful commentary from Larry Park, who remembers being carried out of the bus and safely put into his mother’s arms. Michael Marshall, the 14-year-old who helped save the kids, will also recount his story.
Kidnapper Fred Woods, along with friends, Richard and James Schoenfeld, created what they thought was the perfect plan to obtain millions—to steal a bus full of children and demand ransom money. The plan didn’t work, and by the time the men awoke from a nap, television news stations around the country were reporting on the children’s’ daring escape.
A park in Chowchilla is being dedicated this afternoon in the memory of Ed Ray. He is the bus driver that helped a…
Police focused on the son of the man who owned the rock quarry, Fred Woods. And a search of his father’s estate held a wealth of evidence, including a draft of a ransom note they never delivered and detailed plans of how they’d carry out the crime.
Today, The Schoenfelds are out of prison, 48 Hours will reveal. They were released on parole for good behavior. Fred Woods has been denied 17 times because he cannot follow prison rules. Prison officials discovered that Fred Woods used a cell phone to run a Christmas tree farm business from prison without permission. More than four decades later, Fred Woods is still a dangerous and cunning man.
In addition to 48 Hours, the Chowchilla bus kidnapping also inspired the movie Vanished Without a Trace, also known as They’ve Taken Our Children: The Chowchilla Kidnapping. Originally airing on March 1, 1993, the movie’s direction came from Vern Gillum.
The teleplay was written by David Eyre Jr. and based on the true-crime book by Jefferson Morgan and Jack Baugh. It starred Karl Malden as Ed Ray, Tim Ransom as Fred Woods, Travis Fine as Rick Schoenfeld, and Tom Hodges as Jim Schoenfeld.
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Watch 48 Hours “Live To Tell: The Chowchilla Kidnapping” on CBS this Saturday at 10/9 p.m.
The Trailer for 48 Hours: The Chowchilla Kidnapping
[Main image courtesy of California Dept. of Corrections Mugshots]