Chowchilla California Historical Events Profile and Resource Guide, City or community of Chowchilla, California Historical Events and Facts, Information, Relocation, Real Estate

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Chowchilla, California Historical Events



1976, July 15
A school bus, full of children ages 5 to 14, was hi-jacked on their trip home from the fairgrounds. When the bus was found later, there was no one aboard. The driver was Ed Rey, age 55 at the time. As was later found out, the kidnapped victims were driven for eleven hours inside two vans before they were entombed in a rock quarry in Livermore. The small 8 x 16 area was inside a moving van. The children dug their way out of the space after 16 hours underground. They were all safe and reasonably healthy and returned to Chowchilla on 17 July 1976.

The investigators were able to dig out the van and learned it had been buried the previous November. A search was made of the estate of the quarry owner, Fred Nickerson Woods. Nothing was found, but the Woods son, Fred Newhall Woods IV was missing. Woods and his friends James Schoenfelt and Richard Schoenfeld were then sought by the police. All three were taken into custody by July 29th. A trial was held in which the three young men pleaded guilty to a number of charges. They were all sentenced to life in prison. Though eligible for parole, it is unlikely it will happen soon. A granite monument was placed in the Chowchilla Government Center to commemorate this incident.


This page is for perpetual written accounts of historical events that have occurred in the city. Anyone who feels they have pertinent information may submit it. This includes all people in or out of Chowchilla and could involve any interested adults or children with events or items that are of interest. Items may be submitted for publication on this page where they will remain as part of a historical archive for the city. Items of interest may include noteworthy events, special events of historical importance, information about area growth that pertains to the history of the city, and other pertinent notes. We hope to establish a large data base of information about the history of each city. Historical Societies are encouraged to open their own page on Key to the City for more extensive historical information.



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