A man who buried 26 California schoolchildren in the 1976Chowchilla kidnapping is set to walk free in March next year.
With the help of two others, Frederick Newhall Woods created a sinister plan inspired by the hit film Dirty Harry to bury the kids for a ransom of $5million (around £4m).
The plot was called “the largest mass kidnapping in U.S. history” by a prosecutor at the time. His crimes were so bad that he has been denied parole 17 times since committing the crime in 1976.
Now it seems that he is finally about to get his shot at freedom.
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Woods has spent more than 45 years in prison for abducting the children, who were aged between five and 14, as well as their driver, 125 miles outside of San Francisco.
He and two other men then buried them alive in a bunker in a quarry owned by the father of Woods, 70.
Two parole commissioners have now decided that Woods is no longer a threat to the public and have recommended his release.
California Governor Gavin Newsom has even asked the parole board to change its mind but it refused, claiming the 120-day limit to reverse the decision had passed.
Despite the imminent release, Gov Newsom claimed Woods “continued to engage in financial related-misconduct in prison”.
Brothers Richard and James Schoenfeld helped him with his dastardly plan – they have already been released.
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The armed trio topped the school bus as it made its way back from a class swimming trip. They then demanded a huge sum of cash from the Board of Education in exchange for their safe return.
Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry, released five years before Woods hatched the plot, is thought to have been the inspiration for the horrifying plot.
But while the trio slept the 27 captives dug themselves out of the earth of Livermore quarry after 16 hours and made their escape.
All three kidnappers were given 27 life sentences and had no scope for parole, though Richard was released in 2012 and James in 2015.
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesperson, Joe Orlando, has now confirmed Wood’s parole.
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