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.
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]