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Atherton kidnapper Schoenfeld will be paroled

Original post made on Jun 19, 2012

Richard Schoenfeld, who grew up in Atherton and was imprisoned for nearly 36 years on a 1976 conviction for the kidnapping of 26 Chowchilla schoolchildren, will be released from prison this month.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, June 19, 2012, 9:01 AM

Comments (16)

Posted by Mom, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 19, 2012 at 10:19 am

This story terrified many of us who were children at the same time. I refused to ride the school bus after the news of the kidnapping, and my mother had to drive me to school.
I can only imagine how traumatized the 26 victims were by the kidnapping and underground burial.


Posted by Jared Bernstein, a resident of Professorville
on Jun 19, 2012 at 10:24 am

A current photograph of Richard Schoenfeld would make a good addition to the story when it appears in the paper, or in a revised posting online.


Posted by Jack Smuckerbyrd, a resident of Professorville
on Jun 19, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Writing to correct an error by the reporter: There were 3 brothers, Richard, Jim, and John. John is the oldest brother and had nothing to do with this crime. I am sure he would appreciate not having his name tarnished. Jim, the middle brother, is the culprit.


Posted by Gunn Class of '67, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 19, 2012 at 2:19 pm

Gunn Class of '67 is a registered user.

Horrific crime - remember well. Aunt, nun at Sacred Heart, took some biblical reference literally; shortly after incarceration, routinely traveled to each prison to visit convicted. As she repeated often,
these offenders were kids (from well-to-do families) themselves. Each recognized the horrors - and accepted accountability of their impulsive action. Don't defend for a moment. Hope Richard will get proactive - who better could share effective strategies that may have prevented such crime.


Posted by D, a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Jun 19, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Whenever a child is harmed, physically or mentally, I think people should be punished with life in prison. To take security, confidence, well-being from a child is evil. These kids who were affected are now grown but you better believe that with this release it will send them back to the age they were when it happened. These kids will never get a break without a LOT of therapy. Their lives were changed forever. How they live their lives and have families will be a legacy for their children. Of course he was a model prisoner. He grew up with everything a kid needs and more. I am glad he grew up and accepted responsibility but it will never replace what they took from these children.


Posted by victims, a resident of Atherton
on Jun 19, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Were the victims allowed to speak at these hearings? What did they have to say? Do they forgive him or do they want to keep him in prison?


Posted by Hulkamania, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 19, 2012 at 6:59 pm

There were more victims then just the kids and bus driver that were kidnapped. When they were able to break out of the moving van that was buried in a quarry in Livermore and make their way to freedom the whole area went into lockdown.

A friend who lived a half mile from the quarry told me kids were transported to school and back in armed convoys of parents. His two boys, one who is now a sheriff's deputy, still talk about how scared they were.


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 19, 2012 at 7:38 pm

Edward Ray the bus driver and hero who saved the children s lives died last month at 91 yrs.

The kidnappers should all have been executed.

Where is this child kidnapper going to be released to?

Not to this area


Posted by victims, a resident of Atherton
on Jun 19, 2012 at 10:24 pm

If his parents or other family still live in Atherton, that is likely where they will send him. The state will certainly not release him to near where the crime occurred and many of the victims likely still live.


Posted by Jennifer Brown Hyde, a resident of another community
on Jun 21, 2012 at 8:57 am

As one of Richard's victims I am saddened to see him released, but am happy for his mother to have her son released. I cling to that positive thought as the only positive thing to come of this. Walk a day in my shoes and you will know the never ending struggle I have to be in a confined place, the anxiety attacks when I have to go to the basement office at work or contenplate being put in a storm shelter during a tornado alert. The lifetime of struggling with having no selfworth has taken years to overcome. Feeling like you are a nothing. Not to mention the loss of a carefree childhood, the loss of my parents ability to raise their children as a normal family would and even the inability to allow my own children to live a normal childhood too. I literally lost a part of me, it was left behind in that hell hole we were buried in. My innocence and childhood were robbed from me. I had night mares where I saw myself killed; the psychiatrist I saw told me those are not normal nightmares, only someone who has prepared themselves to die would have those. I went to counseling on through my mid 20's to help me deal with the kidnapping and have spent the past 10 yrs searching for the strength to forgive my abductors and am still struggling with that. It has not been an easy road and one only 25 other children can share with me. I can NOT even imagine the hell my parents went thru while we were missing,,,that is a whole other nightmare. Just one side you don't see mentioned in this article. Please pray for Richard's victims as we come to terms with this news. I am a survivor and not a victim. With my GOD, I can endure all and bring glory to his name. AMEN


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 21, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Ms. Brown Hyde, thank you for your comments. I am so relieved to read that you have been steadily triumphing against what you survived. I wish you continued peace, grace and wisdom and I am very happy that you're around to teach us a bit about what you've been through. I am deeply sorry for what happened to you all and what your loved ones had to endure as well.


Posted by victims, a resident of Atherton
on Jun 22, 2012 at 2:33 pm

ABC News says he was released to his mother's house, which I assume is still in Atherton. Web Link


Posted by victims, a resident of Atherton
on Jun 22, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Mountain View police say that Richard Schoenfeld is now a resident of their city: Web Link


Posted by Evan, a resident of Meadow Park
on Jun 24, 2012 at 8:00 am

Why does Mountain View get all of Palo Alto nannies, dishwashers, housemaids, restaurant staff, and now paroled kidnapers?


Posted by neighbor, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2012 at 8:48 am

I was a kid when this happened - it made a big impression as a major crime with a lot of victims - I felt sorry then and feel sorry now for the victims. It was a major news story as it was a horrific crime.

I later was acquainted with someone who went to high school with them and knew them fairly well and she said they were quite well off.

An interesting thing I heard on the radio: often an argument to get rid of capital punishment is, oh, we can give them life in prison.
But if life in prison means getting out sometime - well, this should be taken into consideration of whether you are in favor or not of capital punishment. I am in favor of capital punishment.

For this case: life in prison, no exceptions, and publicize this case so others aren't tempted to pull such evil stunts in future.


Posted by neighbor, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2012 at 8:49 am

@ Evan, they weren't from Palo Alto.
He went to Mountain View (I'm not thrilled, either) because he has to live with his mother, who now lives there.


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