Children's kidnapper released from Calif. prison
Sunday, June 24, 2012
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) — One of three men who kidnapped a busload of California school children in 1976 is now living with his mother in a San Francisco suburb after being released from prison.
Richard Allen Schoenfeld was taken to Mountain View on Wednesday following his release after more than 35 years, police spokesman Liz Wylie said.
Schoenfeld's mother, Merry, confirmed to The Associated Press that he was staying with her, but had no further comment.
His older brother, John Schoenfeld, spoke to San Francisco television station CBS5, shortly after his brother was released.
"My mother, and the whole family . would like to say we're sorry to the victims," John Schoenfeld told the station.
"Unfortunately, my brothers didn't understand. It wasn't only the kids, they thought the kids were going to be home in a couple of days, but it was a kid, it was a family, it was a whole community they affected."
The 57-year-old Schoenfeld will be required to wear a GPS monitoring device 24 hours a day, and will be monitored by police, authorities said.
Mountain View police were in communication with parole agents for the past week in preparation for Schoenfeld's release, acting Police Chief Mike Hamlin said in a statement.
"The MVPD will continue to work closely with parole in monitoring Schoenfeld to ensure the safety of our community members," Hamlin said.
Schoenfeld, his brother, James, and a friend, Fred Woods, were convicted of kidnapping 26 school students and their bus driver and burying them alive in a van inside a Livermore rock quarry in the hopes of collecting a $5 million ransom.
Their plot unraveled when they took a nap, and students and bus driver were able to escape unhurt.
All three men received life sentences after pleaded guilty to kidnapping charges.
An appeals court in February ordered Richard Schoenfeld be released from prison, ruling that the Board of Parole Hearings had unfairly set his parole date for 2021 even though it concluded he wasn't a threat to society.
But Schoenfeld had remained locked up while the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation appealed to the California Supreme Court.
When the high court notified CDCR earlier this month that it was refusing to take the case, prison officials had no choice but to release Schoenfeld.
"As such, CDCR does not have any legal option other than to release inmate Schoenfeld and will do so," CDCR spokesman Luis Patino said after the decision.
James Schoenfeld and Woods have parole hearings later this year.
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