School board candidate once arrested for abducting children

By From page A1 | September 12, 2011

Alvina Sheeley

Alvina Sheeley

FAIRFIELD — A candidate for a Fairfield-Suisun school board seat in this November’s election is a former teacher who was arrested for abducting four young girls from a bus stop in 1998.

Alvina Sheeley, 70, pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to four counts of abduction, spent more than a year in a federal psychiatric hospital and was under the watch of a state probation officer and private psychiatrist until her supervision was discharged in 2008.

Sheeley, whose teaching credential remains revoked, is one of eight candidates running for four available seats Nov. 8.

Sheeley was on leave from teaching Spanish at Fairfield High in 1998 when she returned to her hometown of Alton, Ill. in an attempt to gain custody of a child she knew through relatives.

After the mother refused, Sheeley picked up four girls, ages 8 to 12, to take them back to California for a “better life,” according to reports at the time. The girls tipped off a rental car clerk near an airport across the Illinois border in Missouri. The clerk called police.

Election 2011 web

In federal court, prosecutors and public defenders agreed to have her sent to a federal psychiatric hospital based on reports from psychiatrists.

A federal judge ordered Sheeley conditionally discharged from Federal Medical Center, Carswell in June 2000. The conditional discharge required Sheeley to live with her son in Vacaville, meet with a probation officer and psychiatrist and take any medications prescribed to her.

Upon her release, Sheeley managed two shoe stores in Vacaville. In 2002, a judge allowed her to live on her own. A judge granted her probation officer’s request to have her released from his supervision in April 2008.


  • Solano County elections official says candidate Alvina Shelley meets the legal requirements to serve on the Fairfield-Suisun School District’s governing board. For the latest information, look here.

In an interview Thursday, Sheeley said she was under “mental duress” at the time.

“I believe what I did was wrong,” Sheeley said. “I accept the responsibility for what I did. I meant no harm to anybody.”

Prior to her arrest, Sheeley ran for a City Council seat in 1997 but lost. She began teaching in Fairfield 1976 as a student teacher at Armijo High School. She taught at Crystal Middle School, Grange Middle School and Fairfield High School until she went on leave in 1998. Upon questioning, Sheeley said she attempted to have her credential reinstated when she was released.

Sheeley said she continues to take medication for her mental illness, which leaves “little chance of recidivism.”

“I am sorry that I did it,” Sheeley said. “The counseling that I received and the medical care helped me to understand why I did what I did.”

Former colleague Frank Billecci was shocked to learn Sheeley was running for a school board seat.

“I think it’s horrendous that someone arrested for kidnapping kids is running for school board,” Billecci said.

Reach David DeBolt at 427-6935 or [email protected]

David DeBolt

David DeBolt

A native of Vacaville, DeBolt was a newspaperman in Palo Alto before coming home to work at the DR in June 2011. He covers education, county government and politics. His friends call him "Scoop."

Discussion | 17 comments

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  • LilSeptember 12, 2011 - 9:45 pm

    Holy crap. I think the fact that she is running for school board is a sign that her mental illness is not under control.

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  • ki svecSeptember 14, 2011 - 7:28 pm


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  • DeniseSeptember 13, 2011 - 8:50 am

    If there is any way this woman us voted in, I will pull my child out of FSUSD completely.

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  • DeniseSeptember 13, 2011 - 8:51 am

    If there is any way this woman is voted in, I will pull my child out of FSUSD completely.

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  • FF64September 13, 2011 - 9:30 am

    Is she or is she not a convicted felon?

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  • Gerald DarrSeptember 13, 2011 - 9:56 am

    One would think that if she was sentenced to a Federal psychiatric facility, and followed up with nearly 9 years of federal probation & supervision, that yes she was convicted. I wasn't aware that you could even run for school board with a conviction like that, crimes against a child(ren). This world is falling apart at the seams.

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  • T-dubSeptember 13, 2011 - 10:40 am

    Thank you to the Daily Republic for bringing this person's past to light!

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  • T.JSeptember 13, 2011 - 10:58 am

    The only thing sadder than someone like this running as a canidate is the people who will actually vote for her taking votes away from other people running.

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  • Rich GiddensSeptember 13, 2011 - 11:20 am

    Hey, what happened to my comment DR? No matter, it can't be helped. I have a question concerning this article but I will find out the answer myself---after all, we don't want to reveal our sources and methods!

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  • Rich GiddensSeptember 13, 2011 - 11:23 am

    .......to take them back to California for a “better life,” No question about it! Massive government insolvency, corruption, incompetence, disloyalty, catering only to the welfare and illegal alien underclasses! No doubt about it---"a better life in Calfiornia"!

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  • JohnSeptember 14, 2011 - 4:03 pm

    What does your rant have anything to do with the main point of the article?

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  • John R.September 13, 2011 - 3:03 pm

    Alvina is a lovely person. I have known her for a few years. I knew nothing about this in her background however. I agree, she should not be running for school board. I do appreciate the way the reporter handled the story, well written piece. It is very clear that she has a mental illness, but it is being treated and is responsive to the meds. She has been trying to build up a life locally again, but that might have been shattered by this story appearing on the front page. Those of us who know her will pray for her this week. However, she needs to withdraw from the race.

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  • ChellSeptember 14, 2011 - 9:48 pm

    You do know right that Alvina is not the name she used prior to all of this? She was going by Cindy before the incident in the late 90's. I am more concerned that she told Fox 40..."I wouldn't say I'm cured, I would say I'm stable," This is not the kind of person I want to have the ability to march into my childrens school at any given time of the educational day...what if she feels that the system is failing my children. She will be in that system and know all the ins and outs...many th ings we as parents do now know. I do not want her to become unstable. Remember Curela DiVille?? She was stable till she saw more puppies!!

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  • LilSeptember 13, 2011 - 3:13 pm

    If she thinks that it is okay to run for school board with a kidnapping conviction in her past, it is obvious that her mental illness is NOT under control. People making logical choices would not think this kind of thing is okay. I would be concerned about her well-being because I think this is a sign that she is closer to the edge than people think.

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  • LSSeptember 14, 2011 - 12:45 pm

    Ms. Sheely was my Spanish teacher in high school and she really is a nice person. Although she was arrested and prosecuted, she was found "not guilty" by reason of insanity. I don't think she should run for school board but she has the right to because she was never convicted of a felony. I actually work in the courts and have seen the views of both sides. Sometimes stories can be totally blown out of proportion about a person's characteristics.

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  • Child Abductor Is Worst School Board Candidate of All Time | Athens ReportSeptember 14, 2011 - 2:25 pm

    [...] wants the power to make the “best decisions” for a whole lot more than four kids as a board representative for hundreds of parents — and based on the “legal requirements to be a [...]

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  • krSeptember 20, 2011 - 2:59 pm

    She was my Spanish teacher in high school. She was a sweet person , but definitively unstable. Our class time would be taken up with her administering various psychological tests, ranting about a student taking more than half a tissue to blow their nose etc. After she called a friend's family to warn them that she was suicidal (not even close) we went to the administration to talk to them about our concerns. We got the equivalent of a pat on the head , and were turned away. This experience , and similar experiences with other teachers has led me to consider alternatives for my daughter who is going into kindergarten next year.

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