After spending 35 years in California state prison for kidnapping a school bus full of children and later burying them in an underground trailer, brothers Jim and Richard Schoenfeld and Frederick Woods are getting support from the lawyers, detectives and judges who worked on the Chowchilla kidnapping case.
More than three decades ago the Schoenfeld brothers and their accomplice Woods hijacked a school bus carrying 26 children and their bus driver, drove it to a quarry almost two hours northwest and moved the children into a buried moving van. With the help of some of the older student, bus driver Ed Ray was able to free everyone from the van and contact the authorities. Now, the men who helped put put the Schoenfeld brothers and Woods behind bars are fighting for their release.
"Nobody was physically injured, that's a huge factor in the case," said retired appeals court Justice William Newsom at a recent press conference.
The argument for the trio's release stems from not only the supposed lack of physical injury, but also the costs associated with continuing to jail the three men, who have been described as "model inmates," costs the state of California more than $150,000 a year.
"We're here to say vengeance is a luxury that California can no longer afford," said attorney Scott Handleman.
Residents of Chowchilla north of Fresno, especially those affected by the kidnapping first-hand, are shocked by the movement to free the men, all of whom are in their late fifties.
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