Posted by H.A. Robbins, a resident of another community, on Aug 28, 2007 at 9:44 pm
I remember when this crime happened. I am watching the movie about this crime and was wondering how the children and Ed Ray are doing since the kidnapping. I think what happened to them is so horrible that the three young men who did this should never be released from jail.
If they can do something like this, they can commet any crime. They should never be given the chance to hurt amyone else again.
Posted by Karla, a resident of another community, on Jan 15, 2008 at 5:36 pm
I remember when this happened. I was 10 or 11 and I lived in New York. It scared me to death because there had also been a famous kidnapping of a little kid in NYC close to the same time. I read a book about it too. I am a counselor and I have thought about the fate of those children from time to time. I have always wondered what became of them and if they have been able to move on with their lives. I don't suppose that you could ever really get over something like that.
Posted by Suzanna Williams, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Jun 14, 2008 at 8:23 am
I grew up in Livermore and was in Chowchilla visiting my Grandparents when the Kidnapping happened. The entire town closed up no-one went out of their houses and no-one left. It was virtually a ghost town for those two days following the event. I remember that summer like it was yesterday I had broken my ankle on April's fools day amd my Parents were in Vegas so we were staying with our grandparents. When the children were found in Livermore it was too much for a ten year old girl to fathom. I have often wondered about those children and hope they are doing well and have been able to ease those memories of that horrible day .
Posted by Mary, a resident of another community, on Jul 15, 2008 at 9:07 pm
I will never forget that day. It was exactly 32 years ago today. I was 9 years old and those were all my friends and neighbors on that bus. The horror that those 3 men put our little town through could never be forgotten.
Posted by Shanna Ruth, a resident of another community, on Sep 20, 2008 at 10:44 pm
was nine years old when this happened and a resident of another California Central Valley town, Turlock. A friend of mine had just moved to Chowchilla and I so worried she was one of these children. I later found out she wasn't, but one of her cousins was on that bus. These children and Mr. Ray could so easily have died in that moving van in the quarry - the idea that those men could be paroled is sickening. They were more than old enough at the time to know better than to do what they did, and they made some very heinous, sick choices that could have resulted in an even worse tragedy than what did occur. Their lives should be lived out in a jail cell plain and simple... Shame on appellate court judge Newsom for thinking otherwise.
Posted by someone who cares, a resident of Livermore, on Oct 31, 2008 at 11:38 am
The youngest one of the kidnappers is being released in 98 days!! Is this not crazy? How do you get paroled for such a horrifying crime with 26 back to back life sentences and get out after 31 years? This is an outrage, these boys ruined these children lives, if you do not believe speak to anyone that was affected by it. These kids who are now adults have had a lot of emotional problems because of this. I cannot imagine how you can release a person who buried 26 young children alive! this is wrong and we should stop this!! PEOPLE PLEASE APPEAL THIS WE CAN NOT LET THESE MEN OUT AFTER ALL THE HARM THEY DID TO THESE INNOCENT CHILDREN!!!!!
Posted by B, a resident of another community, on Dec 11, 2008 at 6:51 am
These guys were all brutal and have no business being paroled. This guy has no defense - youthful indiscretion!!?? At no point in this multi-day event did this guy show any indication of being against this horrific crime. He had plenty of opportunities. They survived despite his best efforts. No amount of "I was just going along reluctantly" makes up for him not even bothering to tip off someone (when he was running, and away from the other two criminals) to go help those kids. He didn't lift a finger to help the kids but did the heavy work to do the crime.
This boggles the mind. What does one have to do to get an honest life sentence?
Posted by Someone who knows the mother, a resident of another community, on Mar 17, 2009 at 1:22 pm
What those 3 men did is deplorable, however I feel that we let much more hardened criminals out of prision who repeat their offesses right away. Many of them have been in prison multiple times. I happen to know their mother, who was heart broken over that event and yearns for the day to have her children home. The family lost everything they owned because of it, but she still holds out hope. They have been exemplary inmates and have received an education while in prision. None of them are out of prison yet, but hopefully, someday society will forgive them. I know that some of the victims have already done so. Anyway, that's my opinion. I'm not saying what they did was right, but I think they've paid their dues.
Posted by Father of Victim, a member of the Amador Valley High School community, on May 3, 2009 at 11:02 am
The untold story is that Laura Diamond of Longview Drive in Pleasanton, CA was murdered two years earlier (1974) when she stumbled upon the site where the truck was being buried in the quary. Since the kidnapping didn't happen until about two years later. The cases were never connected.
Posted by Joan Brown, a resident of another community, on May 7, 2009 at 8:29 pm
I am the mother of two of the victims: Jeffrey and Jennifer Brown. Jeffrey was killed 5 years later in a farming accident in 1981, at the age of 15. Jennifer, now 43, lives in a San Joaquin Valley community, not far from Chowchilla, with her husband and two boys, ages "almost" 9 and 10. (The same ages she and Jeff were at the time of the kidnapping.) This past winter she finally told her sons the story of the Chowchilla Kidnapping. They were amazed at what their mother had gone through; but, as all the kidnapping victims themselves at their young ages, the real impact of it is only realized as one gets older and has children of their own. Does that make sense???
Anyway, just wanted to say that the emotional effects of that ordeal will always be with Jennifer in unusual and troubling ways -- in no way life-threatening, but nonetheless, things that complicate her life, and all because of the crime committed upon those children.
What they did to our children was brutal and inhumane. In addition to what they endured before they were buried alive, had they not dug themselves out, they would still be buried there to this day; and all those families would have lived a life of sadness and sorrow, never knowing what happened to their loved ones. Of course, what do I know, I'm just the Mother of two of them??? I do have sadness and sorrow in my life because of the loss of Jeff, but I find great joy in Jennifer and her family.
Posted by Tiffany, a resident of another community, on May 24, 2009 at 11:56 pm
I grew up in Chowchilla and grew up hearing the horror stories of this and how badly the children were affected. I wasnt even born when it happened but kids were still scared of the busses from stories people told of what happened as I as growing up. My dad is 45 and was the perfect age to have been on that bus. They were 1 street over from where he lived when this happened and I'm just thankful he wasnt victimized in this horrible act. If the van was burried in 1975 and this didnt happen until so much later, this was really thought out and wasnt some spur of the moment thing that they should be let go for. If the victims hadnt been smart enough to get out when they did they could have easily died down there with no air, little food and water and nowhere to get rid of bodily fluids, they could have all gotten very sick very quickly. Then these guys would have probably gotten 27 life sentences as they deserve. No parole, its rediculious! If they hadnt managed to get out they would have been dead down there! With all those families of the close community of Chowchilla hurting and never knowing what happened, just for some rich spoiled boys to get more money! Keep them locked up!
Posted by Felix Katich, a resident of another community, on May 25, 2009 at 2:13 pm
Hello Joan. I met you many years ago while Jennifer as living in Fresno before she was married. Must have been early 90's. I was watching late night TV Saturday night on 5/24 and a segment was on the kidnapping. Because I knew Jennifer I decided to get on the commputor and I found your posting. I hope she is doing well with her family. The reason I am posting this hoping you will see it. While unpacking boxes that were in storage from moving my wife and I came accross a book that belongs to you that you gave Jennifer. It's called Sun Signs, your name is written on the inside cover. It is not mine and want to know if either you or Jennifer want it back. Jennifer and her friend Kim know what area I live in and I should be easy to get in contact with. I also think that those men should NEVER be released from prison. Hope all is well..Felix.
Posted by Bill the Nurse, a resident of Livermore, on Nov 6, 2009 at 7:00 pm
I was one of two Nurses that cared for the kids while they were at Santa Rita Correctional Facility. I also rode on the Greyhound bus with them back to Chowchilla. Went through the court process as a witness also. Anyway, I will never forget. A permanent memory for me. I still keep drawings, letters and such the kids gave me that night and that they sent to me for months, years afterwards. Hello to any of them that read this note. -Nurse Bill
Posted by catherine, a resident of another community, on Mar 7, 2010 at 4:43 pm
Regarding Ken's question concerning the lawsuit against the driver: it was a group of the parents of the children. Mr. Ray was contemplating writing a book on his experiences. Some of the parents objected to his profiting in any way from the crime. Others simply found fault with his failure to safely deliver their children home from school that day (as though, with the knowledge he had at the time, anything he could have done would have prevented the crime). It was an ugly situation, and the threatened suit hurt the man deeply. I think he once said that the law suit hurt him almost as much as the crime itself did. He dropped his project of co-authoring a book on the subject, and, for whatever reason, the lawsuit went away.
For the record, it was only some of the childrens' parents --not all of them. At the time I didn't even know which parents were involved, so I certainly don't remember now.
Posted by Jennifer, a resident of another community, on Sep 24, 2010 at 7:57 am
What a surprise to read these postings from people I actually know. I was online looking up details of the kidnapping to answer some questions someone asked me about the timeline of the kidnapping. After 30+ years I could not remember exactly some of the details. Over the years I have stashed some of those parts of my life in storage in the back depths of my brain.
Felix, keep the book, didn't realize you still had it. Thanks for thinking of returning the book, you are a very thoughtful person to do so. I have fond memories of the time spent with you. Hope life is treating you well.
Nurse Bill: I will NEVER forget the kindness you and Nurse Dave showed to me during the ordeal. I still have photos of you from the parade you attended shortly after the kidnapping. I am married 15 yrs, with two boys, living in a southern state.
Many people cross your path in life and help make you the person you are today. You two (felix and bill) have been a stepping stone in my life to happiness, love and peace. Hope you have found the same.
Posted by Mike, a resident of another community, on Nov 29, 2010 at 8:19 am
This was a horrible thing to do; however, I think every one of us can relate to hearing of a murderer, a rapist, or a child molestor let out after serving a fraction of this sentence. I have always held special interest in this, as it happened the day I was born. That was 34.5 years ago. Folks, that is a long time. I just don't really see that these three are a danger to anyone if they get out.
Posted by long-time family friend, a resident of the Vineyard Hills neighborhood, on Jan 28, 2011 at 9:44 am
I'd like to offer some input from an different angle, one of familiarity with the family of the brothers who did the kidnapping.
My father has been a long-time friend of Dr. Schoenfeld, father of the brothers. This was, obviously, devastating to this family. These boys were raised in a loving home by two involved and loving parents whose family values were strong and good.
I recognize that what Jim and Rick did was devastating to the well-being of the children involved. Words cannot express the depth to which the damage was done. But, what Jim and Rick did was NOT due to a desire to hurt others. These are NOT hard-hearted criminal-minded boys, now men, who can't wait to get out and inflict more pain. They were good kids who did something incredibly stupid. They were young, naive, and influenceable. Lots of kids are. They just went way too far.
They have been exemplary inmates, earned degrees, gained responsibility within their "community." Again, they were young and incredibly misguided. Their parents were as shocked as you wuold be if your good kids did something agonizingly wrong and damaging.
Jim and Rick should be released after 34 years. My father has spoken at their parole hearings alongside many of the now-grown children who were involved in the kidnapping, urging the parol board to allow Rick and Jim to live their lives. Dad has heard the grown children speak of forgiveness. The men have expressed deep sorrow for the life-long pain they inflicted on all those involved. They are not bad boys, they did something terribly bad over 30 years ago. They have spent the rest of their youth and into their middle age in agony over the decisions made when they were young.
We've all done stupid things. THey went too far. They have paid for it and always will. Even on the outside, they will never have a normal life. They will never forget. They can only try to make up for it by doing the most with what is left of their lives.
Posted by George, a resident of another community, on Feb 24, 2011 at 9:35 am
Being buried alive is one of the most horrific experiences a person can suffer. Edgar Alan Poe wrote a famous tale of horrer about it.
These men subjected 25 of the most vulnerable of our society such torture, young children aged five to fourteen. None of these children will ever forget the horror and mental trauma of the kidnapping; some children will never recover from this trauma. It is ridiculous for anyone to argue that "no one was injured." It was only an accident that these children are alive today.
These men carefully planned this crime for over a year, and then dealt out a a lifetime of trauma to vulnerable children. A lifetime of trauma equals a lifetime of punishment. Shame on Justice Newsom for trying to argue otherwise.
Posted by ReadUp, a resident of the Avila neighborhood, on May 18, 2012 at 10:12 pm
One man has been granted parole, to take place in 2021, 45 years after he was incarcerated and when he'll be around age 68. The other two tried to or did run to Canada, but the man who has been paroled turned himself in and confessed. And that's why he was paroled. Whether you agree with it or not, in some cases, the confession is the only evidence, so there has to be some incentive to confess.
As horrible as this crime was, paroling the only one of the three who confessed after 45 years in prison for a crime in which no one actually died, though through no help from the parolee, was probably the right thing to do.
Posted by CA girl, a resident of another community, on Jun 16, 2012 at 10:26 am
I was 19 and living in Sacramento when this occurred and was scared silly while they were gone; I remember (before they were found) all of the speculation that the bus driver took the kids.
My opinion about whether any of them deserve parole substantially depends on the intentions of the three at the time: did they intend to release the kids and driver when (if) they received the ransom, or did they intend to let them die? Young people often lack common sense, so it seems reasonable that they might not have understood that the hostages could die in a short period of time underground, and intended to release them after receiving the ransom; if that is the case, then I agree with their parole. However, if they intended to keep the money and never return to release the 27 hostages, then that is indicative of a complete lack of regard for human life and a mental defect that I don't think is reparable over time, and I would be very afraid to have them back out on the streets at any time.
No matter what anyone thinks about parolling them, it is happening for the youngest kidnapper; let's hope that he intended to return and set the hostages free.