Friday, April 19, 2013

Chowchilla and Boston

In the mid 1970s I was a high school student.  An unassuming, easygoing, biddable young man sat at a desk a few feet from mine in my math class.  He seemed a bit at sea, without any plans and not a great deal of discernment, but was pleasant, polite, and liked to laugh and got along and would go along pleasantly with anyone.  His name was Rick Schoenfeld.  After high school he fell into spending time with his 20-something brother, James, and a man in his 30s named Frederick Woods whose moral compass was, it turned out, completely lacking.  And a few years later:  

Later evaluations of the holding place of the children revealed that if the bus driver had not been able to get them out, they would likely have died of asphyxiation due to insufficient air circulation.

Rick subsequently turned himself in.  His brother and Frederick Woods fled and were later apprehended, the latter as he tried to cross the border into Canada.  Rick was paroled last year.  His brother and Mr. Woods are still in prison.

And as I hear reports of the astonishment of 19 year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's friends, I think I understand.

On a further note:
A San Francisco Chronicle article last June about Rick (Richard) Schoenfeld's release from prison contained an interview with a woman who was one of the children kidnapped.

"When told by a reporter that Schoenfeld's release was imminent, she said she wasn't surprised. "I knew he would be the first to be let go," she said by phone. Not only was he the youngest, but he seemed to be the follower, not the leader, of the crime, she said."

It reminds me that there is tragedy on many sides of this whole, horrible, recent Boston bombing.

Further into the article is this:  "A deeply religious woman steeped in her Christian values, Hyde said she has struggled with her feelings knowing that Schoenfeld probably wouldn't be in prison forever.

"I don't know if I've forgiven him," she said. "But I have moved past my anger and hate."

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