Jodi Heffington: How Did the Chowchilla Kidnapping Survivor Die?


While there’s no denying it was an absolute miracle that every sufferer of the 1976 Chowchilla kidnapping had survived, the trauma they then wanted to reside with was sadly merely as terrifying. After all, as explored in CBS’ ’48 Hours: Remembering the Chowchilla Kidnapping,’ a school bus driver plus 26 kids had been taken and held underground for 16 hours sooner than they managed to flee. Amongst them was then-10-year-old Jodi Heffington — so now, do you have to wish to be taught additional about her, her experiences, along with her last future, we have now now obtained every important ingredient for you.

Who Was Jodi Heffington?

Born on October 5, 1965, as a result of the youngest of three to Nina Dixon and Billy Joe Heffington, Nina Jo “Jodi” admittedly had a comfy, happy, loving childhood alongside her two elder brothers. The family did switch spherical fairly lots all through her early years since Billy was inside the Air Force, however as quickly as he retired for good they normally chosen to settle down in Merced, California, she was over the moon. But alas, the teen’s delight of lastly all the time being surrounded by shut family like grandparents, aunts, uncles, along with cousins was rapidly overshadowed by the July 15, 1976, incident.

It was roughly 4 pm on the fateful day when Dairyland Elementary School’s official bus taking 26 kids, aged 5 to 14, dwelling from a summer season journey to the Fairgrounds swimming pool was hijacked. 10-year-old Jodi was sitting correct there, so the image of a van blocking the avenue sooner than their quiet however kind bus driver, Frank Edward “Ed” Ray, was confronted obtained seared correct into her thoughts. “Then this man came up with a stocking over his head with a gun and said ‘open the door,’” she candidly recalled inside the ’48 Hours’ manufacturing sooner than together with, “I had never been around guns.”

Jodi continued, “You only see bad guys in the movies with stockings on, so I knew it wasn’t good,” nevertheless she may’ve under no circumstances imagined the firearm would rapidly be pointed correct at her stomach. She thus genuinely thought the three males had been going to kill every single thought-about certainly one of them, significantly as they’d divided the group into two vans sooner than taking them to a quarry following an 11-hour drive. The reality the trio then took their victims out of the automotive one after the different scared her far more — she had no idea that they had been in Livermore, the place they’d primarily be buried alive in a subject truck.

“They’d take the next kid out,” Jodi mentioned inside the episode. “And they would close the doors. But when they opened the doors, you don’t see them. I thought they were basically killing us one at a time.” However, the actuality is the abductors had been merely shoving each of the 27 individuals into the underground truck trailer inside the rock quarry inside the hopes of receiving a significant ransom for his or her return. Thankfully, though, no matter the horrific circumstances along with fear, the victims had been able to work collectively and manually dig their means out — that they had been all free after virtually 16 hours of their jail.

The authorities then arrived on the scene as quickly as doable, however they didn’t rush the survivors to their households, the hospital, or a resort to settle down and course of precisely what had transpired. Instead, they packed all of them on a bus and took them on to a county jail — the one place shut by sufficiently large to hold them — for questioning that lasted an additional 4 or 5 hours. The perpetrators had been subsequently acknowledged, arrested, and convicted, nevertheless nothing was ever the equivalent for a lot of who actually went by way of the ordeal, considerably as there wasn’t lots give consideration to psychological properly being once more then.

Image Credit: George Osterkamp/CBS News

“How that day affected me? [It] has affected me every day in some way or another,” Jodi conceded inside the CBS distinctive, indicating she spent the following a very long time struggling to hunt out peace. “I think it made me not a good daughter, not a good sister, not a good aunt, and especially not a good mother… I try to be those things. But it seems like, it just took something from me that I can’t ever get back. And I can’t tear down … no matter how hard I try and no matter what I do.” Though the one issue she did deal with to do was be the voice for every sufferer each time their perpetrators had been up for parole — however by 2022, all three of them had been granted early launch beneath supervision.

How Did Jodi Heffington Die?

In the a very long time for the cause that abduction, Jodi actually grew to turn into involved inside the United Methodist Church, found her passion in elevating pigs on the family farm for reveals, and developed proper right into a cosmetologist. She moreover found the which implies of actual love, pleasure, and pleasure as quickly as she had her son Matthew, who has inherited her quick wit, wicked humorousness, nice spirit, and ability to make others snort. But alas, sooner than she may really switch on from the earlier, Nina Jo “Jodi” Heffington-Medrano sadly handed away on January 30, 2021 — the 55-year-old’s precise clarification for demise has under no circumstances been revealed, making us think about it was pure.

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