Who Was Frederick Newhall Woods iv? What Did He Do?

In 1976, in Chowchilla, California. A man named Frederick Newhall Woods IV, along with two others, kidnapped children from a school bus. Let’s find out who Woods was and what he did.


Frederick Newhall Woods IV, only 24 at the time, came from a family known since the California Gold Rush. He, along with James Schoenfeld and his brother Richard Schoenfeld, shocked Chowchilla by kidnapping kids and asking for a $5 million ransom.

At the time of the 1976 Chowchilla school bus kidnapping, Frederick Newhall Woods was 24 years old.
At the time of the 1976 Chowchilla school bus kidnapping, Frederick Newhall Woods was 24 years old. (Image By the-sun.com)

Arrest and Conviction:

The FBI discovered Woods’ involvement through evidence linking him to the crime. They found keys to a quarry and proof that he helped plan the ransom. The three were charged with kidnapping for ransom and robbery.

Legal Proceedings:

Originally, they got life sentences without parole. But later, an appeals court changed it to life with the chance of parole. This decision sparked debates about justice.

Parole and Legal Battles:

Woods had many parole hearings. In 2012, Richard Schoenfeld got parole, and James Schoenfeld followed in 2015. Woods faced his 19th parole hearing in March 2022. Surprisingly, despite objections, he got parole in August 2022.

Post-Imprisonment Ventures:

While in prison, Woods ran businesses, like a gold mine and a car dealership. He inherited a $100 million trust fund and even got married three times in prison.


July 15, 1976Woods, along with James and Richard Schoenfeld, orchestrates the kidnapping of a school bus in Chowchilla, California.
Post-KidnappingWoods, convicted of kidnapping for ransom and robbery, receives a life sentence without parole, later overturned and re-sentenced to life with the possibility of parole.
March 2022Woods faces his 19th parole hearing, leading to a panel’s recommendation for parole.
August 7, 2015James Schoenfeld is paroled.
2012Richard Schoenfeld is released on parole.
August 17, 2022Despite Governor Newsom’s request for reconsideration, Woods’ parole is granted.
Post-ParoleWoods reportedly runs various businesses from behind bars, including a gold mine and a car dealership. He inherits a trust fund and marries three times while in prison.
December 2023Frederick Newhall Woods IV, a central figure in the Chowchilla kidnapping, remains a subject of intrigue and controversy as the community grapples with the impact of his actions.


Q: Why did Woods kidnap children?

A: Woods, along with others, kidnapped children, thinking it would make the state more likely to pay a ransom.

Q: What happened after the first life sentence without parole?

A: The court changed their sentences to life with the possibility of parole, leading to debates and discussions.

Q: How did Woods manage businesses from prison?

A: Remarkably, Woods ran businesses, inherited money, and got married while behind bars.

Q: How did the community react to Woods getting parole?

A: The community, still affected by the kidnapping, felt shock and disbelief when Woods got parole, bringing back old memories.

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