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Chochilla Kidnapping1976

While doing research, I happened upon a really wild event that occurred during my youth, but that I never heard of, the Chowchilla kidnapping of 1976.

Three assailants kidnapped a bus filled with 26 school children, ages 5 to 14, from the small town of Chowchilla, CA. I was 12 at the time, living in the Chicago area, and apparently oblivious to this crazy story.

The kidnappers transferred the kids to two vans, then imprisoned them in a tractor trailer truck the assailants buried underground. After 16 hours in the dark, the kids escaped when a few older, stronger kids managed to work a way out through the ceiling that was collapsing under the weight of the dirt overhead.

Most bizarre, the kidnappers turned out to be three young white guys from wealthy San Francisco families. They planned to ask the state of California for $5 million, which the men planned to use to pay off debts.

Anybody remember that story?

The article is fascinating, because it includes interviews with the victims, now grown. I can only imagine how a frightening incident like that would affect a young kid.


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