Sunday, June 24, 2012


Chowchilla 'Busnapper' Wins Release From Prison

The headline took me back to 1996 or so. We used to hang around a beer garden/bar named Zott's up in the hills behind Stanford University. The bar was an amusing diversion and was still filled with Ken Kesey types.  One of the guys we met at Zott's was sort of a permanent house sitter for one of the three guys in prison for the Chowchilla incident. He lived in an apartment above the detached garage/converted stables of the convicted busnapper ringleader parent's estate. The old main house sat on several prime acres of Portola Valley real estate. The name of the guy in prison is in the public record but I don't know if the story of the house/estate is. Apparently all the heirs but him are now dead. So there it sat in 1996, empty. Power and lights had long been shut off.

One Halloween (must have been '96 or '97) we got invited to a party up at the caretaker's. After much consumption of alcohol he took us on a flashlight tour of the old house which was amazing because it had been abandoned completely furnished. This apparently had long been an annual thing--a guided flashlight tour of the "haunted house." Just imagine a scaled down "Downton Abbey" with cobwebs. The coolest thing I remember was a bedroom upstairs--completely furnished--on the wall was a pennant from the 1936 Berlin Olympics showing all the nation's flags--including the Nazi flag. The place was like a time capsule. I'm also pretty sure that that's where the arrests occurred for the kidnappings.


  1. There was a whole generation of guys out there in Portola Valley in the 90's. I called them proto-slackers because they had been there since the 70's pretty much doing nothing. Many had parents who had seen real estate values and the subsequent leverage take off in the 1980s and 90s and had no hope of buying in locally. Many led sad lives as they were waiting for their parents to die.

  2. Limo Sydney

    Hi. This post is really interesting. It's nice to think back to the past and talk about it with the people who have the same interest.