Lynda Carrejo Labendeira: The Chowchilla Survivor is Now a Grandmother

For anyone who has ever heard of the 1976 Chowchilla kidnapping incident, it is hard not to admire the strength and courage showcased by the young victims in the face of such hardship. Max’s ‘Chowchilla’ sheds light on many of these brave souls, including Lynda Carrejo Labendeira, who talked about just what was going on in her mind when she was trapped in the underground prison. Naturally, the world has become quite curious about what she has been up to these days.

Who is Lynda Carrejo Labendeira?

In the summer of 1976, Lynda Carrejo Labendeira seemed to be living her best life. Participating in summer school, she did not want the fun to end. She was quite close to Jeff Brown, whom she called her “10-year-old boyfriend.” Part of a family of 11, Lynda was the third youngest and was ten years old on July 15, 1976. After her school had ended for the day, with Jeff even starting a petition to let the summer school continue longer than intended, Lynda boarded the bus that would take her home. Apart from Jeff and his sister, Jennifer Brown Hyde, Lynda’s three siblings and two cousins were also on the bus.

However, the happy atmosphere turned around when three masked men used their guns to stop the bus that had 26 children and Edward “Ed” Ray (the bus driver) on it. At gunpoint, the kidnappers asked Ed to go towards the back before driving the bus away. Lynda recalled how she became extremely scared and tried ducking away in the fourth-row seat. She was not the only one to be full of fear, as her sisters, cousins, and friends were also terrified.

Not long after, all the kids and Ray were told to move into two vans that were lined at the door. After everyone had left the bus, the kidnappers drove the kids around for several hours before leading them to a tented area. All of the victims were asked to go down a hole and into the underground space that had been created for them after the kidnappers noted down the names and other details of their victims.

Lynda recalled how she felt trapped, like one might be in a coffin, given the nature of the situation. Genuinely afraid that she would never see the rest of her family again, Lynda felt like these might be her last moments. However, thanks to the efforts of people like Ray and Michael “Mike” Marshall, Lynda and the rest of the kidnapped victims were able to escape their underground confinement before moving around quietly in order to get help.

Where is Lynda Carrejo Labendeira Now?

The trauma of what Lynda Carrejo Labendeira and the rest of the survivors went through certainly did not fade away easily. In the Max documentary, she emphasized how it took a long time for her to let go of her fears. She was especially afraid of the three men, Fredrick “Fred” Woods, James Schoenfeld, and Richard Schoenfeld, who had orchestrated the whole kidnapping. Knowing that they had information about her and her address, she was paranoid for the longest time about them coming back to hurt her.

Over the years, Lynda has become a strong voice when it comes to the punishment of the three kidnappers. In the Max documentary, she claimed that Dale Fore, a former detective involved in the case, had offered her money to give a statement advocating for the paroled release of the kidnappers. She recalled how Fore had been someone who had assured her and the others that the men responsible for her kidnapping would never be released, and so the fact that he started for Fred Woods’ legal team did not sit well with her.

Lynda was also close to Jodi Heffington, who has fought bitterly against the release of the three kidnappers and to advocate for the mental health of the survivors. Hence, Heffington’s passing in 2021 at the age of 55 deeply affected Lynda. The survivor chose to add some positivity to the world and moved back to Chowchilla, California, as an educator at Alview-Dairyland School. While there, she tries to ensure that every child under her care is doing well.

On a more personal note, Lynda has a thriving family that she finds mother joy in. Not only is she a proud mother, but as of November 2022, she is a grandmother of four. She is also a huge animal lover, especially when it comes to dogs, and even posts on social media to help them find their forever homes. The Chowchilla survivor is also a huge advocate of educational reforms and a champion of mental health wellness.

Read More: Where is Jennifer Brown Hyde Now?