8 episodes

It was one the largest abductions in U.S. history. 

On July 15, 1976, a school bus carrying 26 schoolchildren ages 5 to 14 and their driver vanished without a trace in the tiny farming community of Chowchilla, California. As a frantic search for them began, the young, terrified hostages and their 55-year-old bus driver found themselves trapped in a scene that seemed like something straight out of a horror movie.

Their unlikely captors, three directionless young men from affluent families, planned the kidnapping for more than 18 months in the hopes of getting “easy money.”

In “Nightmare in Chowchilla,” we untangle a controversy that has dogged this case for decades: Who was the real hero in the Chowchilla kidnapping? The bus driver who received all the acclaim in the days following their escape, or a 14-year-old boy who hatched a plan that ultimately saved the lives of 27 people. 

Senior correspondent Claudia Cowan travels throughout California to get firsthand accounts from the people who lived through this horrendous crime, including several of the survivors and their parents, the sheriff who feverishly looked for the abductors, a TV news producer who covered the story and a prosecutor who has worked on the case.  And in our podcast exclusives, we reunite two survivors who haven’t seen each other since that fateful day as well as reveal a message from one of the captors. 

Nightmare in Chowchilla: The School Bus Kidnapping Fox News

    • True Crime
    • 4.6 • 82 Ratings

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Requires subscription and macOS 11.4 or higher

It was one the largest abductions in U.S. history. 

On July 15, 1976, a school bus carrying 26 schoolchildren ages 5 to 14 and their driver vanished without a trace in the tiny farming community of Chowchilla, California. As a frantic search for them began, the young, terrified hostages and their 55-year-old bus driver found themselves trapped in a scene that seemed like something straight out of a horror movie.

Their unlikely captors, three directionless young men from affluent families, planned the kidnapping for more than 18 months in the hopes of getting “easy money.”

In “Nightmare in Chowchilla,” we untangle a controversy that has dogged this case for decades: Who was the real hero in the Chowchilla kidnapping? The bus driver who received all the acclaim in the days following their escape, or a 14-year-old boy who hatched a plan that ultimately saved the lives of 27 people. 

Senior correspondent Claudia Cowan travels throughout California to get firsthand accounts from the people who lived through this horrendous crime, including several of the survivors and their parents, the sheriff who feverishly looked for the abductors, a TV news producer who covered the story and a prosecutor who has worked on the case.  And in our podcast exclusives, we reunite two survivors who haven’t seen each other since that fateful day as well as reveal a message from one of the captors. 

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Requires subscription and macOS 11.4 or higher

    Taken - Ep. 1

    Taken - Ep. 1

    The rural town of Chowchilla, California is shaken to its core when a school bus carrying 26 children and their beloved driver disappears. 
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    • 29 min
    Where are the Children? - Ep. 2

    Where are the Children? - Ep. 2

    A significant clue is found that should lead straight to the children, but instead goes nowhere. Small town Chowchilla becomes international news as parents and law enforcement launch a frantic search. 
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    • 24 min
    Buried Alive - Ep. 3

    Buried Alive - Ep. 3

    The children and bus driver are hidden underground. Will they be found or make it out alive? Hostages recall their 30 hours of terror.
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    • 35 min
    The Kidnappers - Ep. 4

    The Kidnappers - Ep. 4

    The kidnappers spent more than 18 months planning the abduction. Who would carry out such a heinous crime on innocent school children? And were they inspired by a popular movie?
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    • 29 min
    "Hope Beyond Pain" - Ep. 5

    "Hope Beyond Pain" - Ep. 5

    Decades after their terrifying ordeal, the event still haunts the survivors. They share their struggles as well as their victories in the years that followed. 
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    • 29 min
    A Reunion - Ep. 6

    A Reunion - Ep. 6

    Two survivors come together for a powerful reunion after four decades apart and another hero emerges. 
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    • 31 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
82 Ratings

82 Ratings

Hap 59 ,

Thorough and Emotional

I’ve heard of this story before but this podcast had me edge of my seat and I didn’t want it to end. Narrator was professional and engaging and compassionate. Great use of time and editing to keep listener following. This story is truly unbelievable. And the ending of podcast was “wow”. I got a little choked up. It was powerful and moving.

Omnichic82 ,

The tone of the presentation is inappropriate

The host is waaaaaay is using a sensationalized tone and delivery that is gross and inappropriate. Stop making it exciting and give it the respect and grief that these victims deserve.

Myka_brooke ,

Welp..

I never thought I’d EVER listen to anything by Fox News. But…I was wrong. Good job. And wow…I can NOT even imagine being one of their parents… my children are no longer riding a bus due to this podcast.

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