Man convicted in largest mass abduction in the U.S. to be freed from prison

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A man who became infamous for his role in the largest mass abduction in U.S. history will be a free man later this week.

The California Parole Board granted 63-year-old James Schoenfeld his freedom after being convicted on 27 counts of kidnapping, a spokesman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said.

In 1976, the case made headlines across the nation when 26 elementary students went missing after their bus was hijacked by Schoenfeld, Richard Schoenfeld and Fred Woods.

According to reports, the trio stormed the bus and hid it in a drainage ditch.

The 27 hostages, which consisted of 26 students and the bus driver, Ed Ray, were divided into two vans and driven to a remote location.

Once there, they were forced to get inside an underground bunker that was stocked with snacks, flashlights and mattresses.

However, the ransom request for $5 million did not go as planned.

After spending several hours in the bunker, Ray and the children stacked the mattresses, which gave them access to the roof of the bunker.

Once there, they tunneled their way above ground and were rescued.

The masterminds behind the plan never got the chance to collect any money.

The three men were captured and sentenced to life in prison.

Richard Schoenfeld was paroled in 2012.

After James Schoenfeld is released later this week, Fred Woods will be the last of the Chowchilla kidnappers behind bars.

He will have his fifteenth parole hearing on Nov. 19.

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