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On February 4, 1974, Patty Hearst, the 19-year-old granddaughter of newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, is kidnapped from her apartment in Berkeley, California, by three armed strangers. Her fiancee, Stephen Weed, was beaten and tied up along with a neighbor who tried to help. Witnesses reported seeing a struggling Hearst being carried away blindfolded, and she was put in the trunk of a car. Neighbors who came out into the street were forced to take cover after the kidnappers fired their guns to cover their escape.
Three days later, the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), a small U.S. leftist group, announced in a letter to a Berkeley radio station that it was holding Hearst as a “prisoner of war.” Four days later, the SLA demanded that the Hearst family give $70 in foodstuffs to every needy person from Santa Rosa to Los Angeles. This done, said the SLA, negotiation would begin for the return of Patricia Hearst. Randolph Hearst hesitantly gave away some $2 million worth of food. The SLA then called this inadequate and asked for $6 million more. The Hearst Corporation said it would donate the additional sum if Patty was released unharmed.
In April, however, the situation changed dramatically when a surveillance camera took a photo of Hearst participating in an armed robbery of a San Francisco bank, and she was also spotted during a robbery of a Los Angeles store. She later declared, in a tape sent to the authorities, that she had joined the SLA of her own free will.
On May 17, Los Angeles police raided the SLA’s secret headquarters, killing six of the group’s nine known members. Among the dead was the SLA’s leader, Donald DeFreeze, an African American ex-convict who called himself General Field Marshal Cinque. Patty Hearst and two other SLA members wanted for the April bank robbery were not on the premises.
Finally, on September 18, 1975, after crisscrossing the country with her captors—or conspirators—for more than a year, Hearst, or “Tania” as she called herself, was captured in a San Francisco apartment and arrested for armed robbery. Despite her claim that she had been brainwashed by the SLA, she was convicted on March 20, 1976, and sentenced to seven years in prison. She served 21 months before her sentence was commuted by President Carter. After leaving prison, she returned to a more routine existence and later married her bodyguard. She was pardoned by President Clinton in January 2001.
READ MORE: 7 Famous Presidential Pardons
How an American Heiress Became the Poster Child for Stockholm Syndrome
L ess than three months after she was kidnapped at gunpoint, the tables had turned: Patty Hearst, the young heiress to the Hearst media empire, was holding the gun &mdash and helping her captors rob a bank. When a now-iconic photo of Hearst armed with a machine gun made the cover of TIME (at right) and Newsweek in April 1974, it captivated the nation as her story blurred the line between victim and accomplice.
Where Hearst had once engendered sympathy, she now became suspect. One homeowner took down the sign in his front yard reading, &ldquoGod Bless You, Patty,&rdquo per The Atlantic. Others felt similarly torn. Hearst had already publicly renounced her family and friends, declaring her allegiance to the ragtag revolutionary group&mdashthe Symbionese Liberation Army&mdashthat had abducted her. Law enforcement officials weren&rsquot sure whether to approach her as someone in need of rescue or arrest. As TIME put it:
There was furious debate, despite the 1,200 photographs snapped by the bank’s cameras during the five-minute robbery, over whether Patty had willingly participated. In Washington, Attorney General William Saxbe&hellip [offered his] view that the girl was “not a reluctant participant,” and labeled all bank robbers, including Patty, “common criminals.” Reacting angrily, [Randolph] Hearst called Saxbe’s statement “irresponsible.” Officially, at least, the FBI did not share Saxbe’s view.
The FBI came around to the criminal view eventually, however, and on this day, Sept. 18, forty years ago&mdash19 months after her abduction&mdashHearst was captured again, this time by FBI agents. Her trial focused in large part on whether she should be held accountable for collaborating with the S.L.A., or whether she had been brainwashed by the group. Although Hearst had earlier called the latter suggestion &ldquoridiculous to the point of being beyond belief,&rdquo her defense team argued that denial was a symptom in itself. Defense psychologists testified, per TIME, that her time in captivity had cost her roughly 20 IQ points and left her with a “childlike level of functioning,” low self-esteem and shattered pride.
While the jury that convicted her didn&rsquot buy the brainwashing theory, many Americans did, and considered her seven-year prison sentence (later commuted to two years by President Carter) an injustice. She became widely seen as a victim of Stockholm syndrome &mdash a term coined only two years before her arrest, when four Swedish bank workers were held hostage for six days and came to side with their captors.
But just as some were reluctant to believe Hearst had been brainwashed, not everyone agrees that Stockholm syndrome is real. There are no standard criteria by which to identify the disorder it isn&rsquot included in psychiatry&rsquos main diagnostic manual. &ldquo[C]ritics insist it’s largely a figment of the media’s imagination,&rdquo TIME notes.
And while many psychologists can explain why it might happen, and crisis negotiators even encourage it to some extent, since it gives captives a better chance of surviving, Stockholm syndrome seems to be more the exception than the rule among kidnapping victims. A 2007 FBI report, per TIME, found that 73% of captives &ldquodisplay no affection for their abductors. &ldquo
Read more from 1975, here in the TIME archives:Patty’s Twisted Journey
Patty Hearst kidnapped: This Day in History
Patty Hearst may be known for her famous last name, but she is much more than just an heiress. Here’s a look back at her infamous kidnapping, self-professed radicalization and where she is today.
Newspaper heiress Patty Hearst was kidnapped 46 years ago Tuesday, putting in motion a bizarre chain of events that ended with her being convicted of robbing a bank with a terror group and then being pardoned by President Jimmy Carter.
Hearst, who was 19 at the time, was taken by armed members of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), a leftist group, from her Berkeley, Calif., apartment, according to the FBI. The group wanted to incite a guerrilla war against the U.S. government and destroy the "capitalist state."
Authorities said Hearst was targeted because she came from a wealthy, powerful family. Her grandfather was newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst.
Patty Hearst holds an assault rifle while robbing a San Francisco bank on April 15, 1974 with other members of the Symbionese Liberation Army, a leftist group bent on going to war with the U.S. government. (FBI)
The group announced the kidnapping on a radio show and demanded food donations to help the poor in California so negotiations could begin for Hearst's release.
"At the same time, they apparently began abusing and brainwashing their captive, hoping to turn this young heiress from the highest reaches of society into a poster child for their coming revolution," the FB said.
On April 3, 1974, the SLA released a tape with Hearst saying she had joined the group. Days later she was spotted on security surveillance tape wielding an assault weapon during a bank robbery with the group.
On May 17 of that year, the SLA got into a shootout with Los Angeles police when officers surrounded a house where a getaway van during another robbery was discovered. Six SLA members died when the house went up in flames.
Hearst and several other members escaped and traveled the country to elude capture. She was caught on Sept. 18, 1975, in San Francisco and charged with bank robbery and other crimes.
Patty Hearst Kidnapping
The Patty Hearst kidnapping was one of the strangest, most highly-followed kidnapping cases in FBI history. On February 4, 1974, a group of men and women knocked on nineteen-year-old Patty Hearst’s apartment door and proceeded to kidnap her, driving away with Patty stowed in the trunk of their car and beating up her fiancé in the process.
The group that kidnapped Patty was a radical group of domestic terrorists known as the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA). This group, led by Donald DeFreeze, was on a mission to destroy the “capitalist state.” They strategically kidnapped Hearst because she was part of a wealthy, powerful family (her grandfather was a famous journalist) and knew that by kidnapping Patty, they would receive a great deal of attention and press.
After Patty’s disappearance, the SLA kept her blindfolded for the next two months at the group’s headquarters. The group soon began to release tapes to the general public that asked for millions of dollars worth of food donations in exchange for her freedom. While Patty’s father initially gave in to these demands, his efforts soon backfired, as the SLA refused to release their hold over Patty.
During the time that Patty was held hostage, the SLA also began to brainwash her, set on turning Hearst into an accomplice for their revolutionary and terrorist goals. Patty was abused both physically and psychologically, and later claimed that she was isolated to the point that she felt that no one would rescue her, and that she was sexually abused by various gang members. Additionally, Patty claimed that she was constantly exposed to the group’s radical beliefs and was forced to record messages that would hurt her loved ones.
These brainwashing methods appeared to be taking effect after the SLA released a tape in which Patty, using her new name “Tania,” claimed that she had joined the SLA’s fight. A few days after the release of this tape, Hearst was spotted taking part in an SLA bank robbery clearly aiding the SLA’s cause. A tape released shortly after the robbery featured Patty explaining that the group members were her comrades, and that their criminal actions were necessary to support the gang’s plans for revolution. Calling her family offensive names, Patty denied vehemently that she was being brainwashed and dismissed such a ridiculous idea, reiterating that she was, “…a soldier of the people’s army.”
Despite Patty’s insistence that she was not brainwashed, and that she was making the choice to support the SLA out of her own free will, many people close to Patty as well as those following her case remained unconvinced, as Patty’s behavior was radically different from how she was before the kidnapping. Some theorize that she fell in love with one of the group’s members (named “Cujo,” whom she mentioned in one of the released videos), while others theorize that she joined the SLA’s mission out of fear, sympathy, or brainwashing.
By this point in the Hearst case, the FBI had launched one of the most massive, agent-intensive searches in its history to find Hearst and stop the SLA in its tracks.
On May 16, 1974, SLA members were caught stealing ammunition from a local store in Los Angeles, California. When Los Angeles police caught up with the gang members at an SLA safehouse, a shootout ensued, sending the entire building up in flames and ultimately causing the deaths of six SLA members.
Although after the fire Hearst promptly fled across the country to avoid capture, FBI agents quickly found her and charged her with bank robbery, among other crimes.
Patty Hearst’s trial was a long and convoluted process, as was the search following her kidnapping. Although F. Lee Bailey, a highly renowned attorney known for having defended Albert DeSalvo (The Boston Strangler) and Sam Sheppard, represented Patty, she was ultimately found guilty by the jury and sentenced to seven years in prison. The jury at the time did not find the theory that she was brainwashed by the SLA plausible, although today Patty Hearst’s case is regarded by many as a clear example of Stockholm Syndrome.
After serving two years in prison, however, President Carter commuted Patty’s sentence, which was later pardoned by President Bill Clinton as one of his final acts in office. Upon Hearst’s release from prison, she went on to become an actress and married her former bodyguard Bernard Shaw, with whom she now has two children.
To learn more about Patty Hearst’s experience through her own eyes, you can check out her book, Patty Hearst: Her Own Story, which was originally titled, Every Secret Thing.
16 Crazy Facts About The Kidnapping of Patty Hearst
Patty as a student before her kidnapping. CBS News.
15. Patty Hearst was kidnapped on February 4, 1974
Patty lived with her fiancÃ©, Steven Weed, a Berkeley professor. When she was in her sophomore year of studying art history, only 19 years old, someone knocked on her door asking to use the phone. They bound and gagged Patty and beat her fiancÃ©. Someone fired shots from an automatic rifle, and witnesses said that they heard Patty screaming for her abductors to leave her alone. Weed was knocked unconscious during the ordeal, and Patty disappeared. The initial terror of her kidnapping, combined with later torture and brainwashing techniques that could have come straight from a CIA Cold War handbook, likely contributed to the string of events that were soon to happen.
Patty&rsquos kidnapping immediately made national headlines, not surprising seeing as her family owned the country&rsquos major newspapers. What was so startling was that her grandfather had made his name in &ldquoyellow journalism,&rdquo a precursor to today&rsquos tabloids that prided itself on sensationalism and &ldquopeople interest&rdquo stories rather than current events. The traumatic event of Patty&rsquos kidnapping could have easily looked like a sensationalized story, but it was all too real. The granddaughter of the man who inspired Citizen Kane had been stuffed into the trunk of a car and taken to an unknown location.
How the Abduction of Patty Hearst Made Her an Icon of the 1970s Counterculture
The 1970s were a chaotic time in America. One of the decade’s most electrifying moments, magnifying flashpoints in American politics, culture and journalism, was the abduction of newspaper heiress Patricia “Patty” Campbell Hearst in early 1974.
The headline-grabbing spectacle only added to the wave of disastrous political, economic and cultural crises that engulfed America that year. The Watergate scandal had intensified as President Nixon vehemently denied knowledge of the illegal break-in to the Democratic National Committee headquarters. The economy continued to stagnate as inflation hit 12 percent and the stock market lost close to half its value. The oil crisis deepened, with long lines at the gas pump and no sign of reprieve. Radical counterculture groups continue to detonate bombs across the country, with approximately 4,000 bombs planted in America between 1972-1973. And, in Hearst’s home city of San Francisco, authorities still worked desperately to identify the infamous “Zodiac” killer who had already slaughtered five people (but suspected of killing dozens more) and yet continued to remain at-large.
In the midst of this destabilized climate came the Hearst kidnapping. The abduction itself was one of the few instances in modern history when someone as wealthy and reputable as a Hearst was kidnapped, simultaneously catapulting one young college student and America’s radical countercultural movements to national prominence. Spread out over several years, the Hearst “saga” came to underscore a rift in American society, as younger generations grew increasingly disillusioned with a political system bequeathed by their elders who were seemingly unwilling to address the nation’s economic and social instability.
The infamous kidnapping is now the subject Jeffrey Toobin’s new book America Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trials of Patty Hearst. (Hearst has always hated being known as “Patty,” a pet name originally bestowed on her by her father that has trailed her ever since.) The New Yorker writer retraces the kidnapping and criminal case of Hearst and her life of the lam, offering fresh insights into this truly mythic tale. Unlike previous accounts on the Hearst story, Toobin interrogates Hearst’s criminal stardom in the wake of the abduction, exploring how she paradoxically became a poster-girl for the decade’s rampant counterculture and fierce anti-establishment sentiment as well as a “common criminal” who “had turned her back on all that was wholesome about her country.”
American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst
The saga of Patty Hearst highlighted a decade in which America seemed to be suffering a collective nervous breakdown. Based on more than a hundred interviews and thousands of previously secret documents, American Heiress thrillingly recounts the craziness of the times.
Patricia was the granddaughter of newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst, the founder of one of the largest network of newspapers in America and also the inspiration for Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane. Although Patricia was born into the Hearst dynasty, William Randolph left a sizable chunk to each of his five sons (including Patricia’s father, Randolph), but entrusted the majority of wealth to the trustees of the Hearst Corporation. Only 19 years old, Hearst was a relatively innocuous figure, but also a representation of the wealth and power structures that the counter-culture wanted to usurp.
The saga all started when a small and little-known, disorganized guerrilla group called the “Symbionese Liberation Army” (SLA) chose Hearst, then a sophomore at University of California, Berkeley, to kidnap. They had hoped the abduction would not only bring attention to their group’s radical cause but that Hearst herself could be used as a bargaining chip to free former SLA comrades incarcerated in prison. (The name “Symbionese” referred to the group’s idea of “political symbiosis,” in which segregated political movements such as gay liberation and Marxism worked together in harmony to achieve socialist ends.) On February 4, 1974, a band of five people broke into Hearst’s apartment—a location they easily discovered after consulting the university’s public registrar—wielding guns and spewing violent threats. They grabbed Hearst and stuffed her in the back of a stolen car as her fiancé ran out screaming and fleeing in terror.
Three days later, the SLA sent a letter to a nearby Berkeley radio station announcing that they had taken Hearst and were now holding her hostage as a “prisoner of war,” sparking a media frenzy. The organization demanded that in exchange for her release, Patricia’s father must feed the entire population of Oakland and San Francisco for free, a seemingly impossible task. But after haphazard attempts by her family to feed the entire Bay Area—coupled with two months of inconsistent and bizarre political “communiqués” from the SLA—Hearst herself announced to the world that was she was doing the unimaginable: she was joining her kidnappers in their campaign to cause political unrest in America. Patricia adopted the name “Tania” and, among other illicit activities, robbed a bank with the SLA.
In an effort to prove her complete conversion and ignite interest in their fight, the SLA chose to rob a local bank, not just because they needed the money, but also because the robbery itself would be recorded on surveillance tape. With visual evidence of Hearst committing crimes, they could leverage that into more media coverage. As more Americans began consuming news from television, and less from evening or afternoon newspapers, the SLA understood that the impact the security camera footage would make.
Additionally, Hearst’s symbolic tie to the history of American journalism allowed the SLA to exploit the news media’s tendency to navel gaze, monopolizing press coverage across all formats and turning their criminal activities into a national sensation.
After criss-crossing the nation with her comrades for more than a year, Hearst was finally captured in September 1975, charged with armed robbery. Her trial became a media circus the legitimacy of the “Stockholm syndrome,” the psychological condition in which a kidnapped victim begins to identify closely with their captors, quickly became the focus of the proceedings. (It takes its name from a high-profile bank hostage case in Stockholm one year earlier, in which several of the bank’s employees closely bonded with their captors.)
Critics of Hearst’s “Stockholm syndrome” defense pointed to multiple audio recordings in which Hearst apparently spoke calmly and lucidly about her decision to defect, all under her own “free will.” But to others, Hearst was a textbook case of the condition, only joining her kidnappers because of the intense strain and trauma of her abduction, physically and psychologically unravelling in such isolated captivity. Whether or not she acted under duress did not sway the judge, with Hearst found guilty and sentenced to seven years’ in prison in 1976.
Hearst’s defection and subsequent criminal spree has long helped enshrine her story into modern American history. To Toobin, there are endlessly conflicting accounts of Hearst’s actual decision to defect, including inconsistencies in her court testimony and police confessions. “Patricia would assert that her passion for joining was a subterfuge because she truly believed that the real choice was join or die,” he writes.
Toobin notes how the abduction was originally treated as a celebrity spectacle Patricia’s face dominated magazine covers with headlines like “Heiress Abducted,” portrayed as a young and innocent socialite imprisoned by hardcore radicals. But he argues that when she defected, she soon morphed into icon for many young and disillusioned Americans who came to identify with her anti-establishment escapades and her desire to shake off the “corrupt” life she had been raised in. As someone who had grown up in the lap of luxury—indeed from a family immune to the many of the grim economic and political realities of the times—Hearst’s decision to stay with her kidnappers was a deeply symbolic transgression, one that articulated the anger so many felt against the American establishment.
Unlike the already enormous body of writing on the topic, Toobin’s study shows acute awareness of the underlying tensions operating in the larger culture, much of which helped to shape how the American public perceived the spectacle. “[The] saga was caught up in the backlash against the violent and disorder of the era,” writes Toobin. But after her capture after being on the run, public opinion swayed significantly against her. “By 1975, she was a symbol no longer of wounded innocence but rather of wayward youth.” Although Toobin had no participation from Hearst—she refused to be involved in the project—his history nevertheless connects the forces of the counterculture, Hearst’s amorphous public identity, and alienation that not even Hearst’s own account (published as Every Secret Thing in 1981) could offer.
Much like his study of the O.J. Simpson trial, For The Run of His Life (recently adapted into the FX television series), Toobin works off a similar strategy, unpacking the paradoxes of Hearst’s title of “criminal celebrity.” In much the same way the O.J. Simpson trial became a symbol of the racial tensions of the 1990s, representing the gulf between the experiences of white and black America, the Hearst abduction story later acted as an emblem of the 1970s. Toobin underscores the widespread and near-contagious disillusionment for the decade, one that saw the ideological pressures map across perceptions of government, growing economic instability, and a pervasive and increasingly popular counterculture movement.
But unlike O.J., Simpson, whose star image is now inextricably bound to his individual, violent crimes, Hearst’s public image at the time (and now) are seen to be less personal and more indicative for the psychosis of the era. After President Carter commuted Hearst’s sentence to 22 months, she avoided remaining a public figure, marrying her bodyguard Bernard Shaw and attempting to begin a normal life out of the spotlight—one, importantly enough, far closer to her Hearst origins than her SLA escapades. She released her memoir in an attempt to end further attention to her case and distance herself from her criminal celebrity. Interest in Hearst waned as the 1980s left many of the issues of the previous decade behind.
American Heiress argues the kidnapping was ultimately “very much a story of America in the 1970s … provid[ing] hints of what America would later become.” Patricia “Patty” Hearst became an unlikely figure for the decade, not only because she had so publically experienced an unthinkable trauma, but also because she symbolically pointed out fissures in American life—tensions that ultimately came to be permanent hallmarks of the times.
About Nathan Smith
Nathan Smith is a culture and technology writer. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Wired and Forbes.
Remember When . Patty Hearst took center stage in a bank robbery
When a taped communique from abducted heiress Patricia Hearst arrived on April 3, 1974, it was not what anyone was expecting.
Hearst had been kidnapped from her Berkeley, California apartment on Feb. 4, 1974 by a group which called itself the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA).
Hearst was held as a "prisoner of war" until communications from the group received on April 2, 1974 said she would soon be released.
But, there was a problem with that message.
The April 16, 1974 edition of The Home News, showing Patricia Hearst participating in The Hibernia Bank robbery in San Francisco on April 15, 1974. (Photo:
Thanks to delivery issues, that message was a day late in arriving. Had it arrived on time, it would have been received on April 1 — April Fool's Day.
In the taped April 3 communique, Hearst announced she had "chosen to stay and fight" rather than go home.
In her 1982 autobiography, "Every Secret Thing," co-written by Alvin Moscow, Hearst wrote the original option presented to her was very different: Join the SLA or be executed.
Now that Hearst had made her declaration of allegiance to the SLA, they had to prove she was a true convert to their cause.
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Five members of the SLA entered the Sunset branch of the Hibernia Bank in San Francisco on April 15, 1974, holding it up at gunpoint.
Taking center stage in the bank was Hearst.
Front page of The Courier-News from April 16, 1974, showing kidnap victim Patricia Hearst iparticipating in the robbery of The Hibernia Bank in San Francisco, California. (Photo:
The group made off with more than $10,000. Two passersby were shot and wounded.
"I think this is the first time in the annals of legal history that a kidnap victim has showed up in the middle of a bank robbery," U.S. Attorney James L. Browning Jr. said in a report in the Courier-News on April 16, 1974. "If she was involved, we're going to charge her as a bank robber. It is clear from the photographs she may have been acting under duress."
Then-U.S. Attorney General William Saxbe had a different opinion.
On April 17, Saxbe told a Washington news conference he personally thought Hearst "was not a reluctant participant in this robbery," according to a report in the Courier-News on April 18, 1974.
Wanted poster after The Hibernia Bank robbery on April 15, 1974, in San Francisco. (Photo: Brad Wadlow)
Saxbe labeled the SLA a group of "common criminals," and he included Hearst "as part of them," according to the report.
A "material witness" was issued for Hearst.
The Special FBI agent in charge of the case, Charles W. Bates, said Hearst was not charged with armed robbery because of doubt she participated willingly. Bates said the bank robbery photographs suggested two SLA members kept their guns trained on her throughout the robbery, according to the report.
Wanted poster for the April 15, 1974 robbery of The Hibernia Bank in San Francisco. Pictured are three of the robbery participants: Patricia Soltysik, Camilla Hall and Nancy Ling Perry. (Photo: Brad Wadlow)
While the robbery of the Hibernia Bank was national news, there was another bank robbery that week, much closer to home.
And the getaway car was a bit unconventional.
On April 17, 1974, a bandit hired a taxi for his trip to and getaway from a $4,000 bank robbery in Bernards.
The Courier-News from April 18, 1974. (Photo:
The FBI said Albert Broderick, a patient at Lyons Veterans Administration Hospital, was the suspect in the holdup of the Somerset Hills and County National Bank in the Liberty Corner section of the township.
While Broderick allegedly robbed the bank, the taxi driver, Mary Delitcher of Bernards, unwittingly waited in the bank's parking lot for him, and then drove him to downtown Plainfield.
The search for the robber of the Somerset Hills and County National Bank came to an end on April 19, 1974. Broderick walked into Lyndhurst police headquarters and turned himself in, after a two-day flight from the law that included a trip to Texas and back, according to a report in the Courier-News on April 20, 1974.
It took a little longer for authorities to track down Hearst.
But, on Sept. 18, 1975, Hearst was arrested at 625 Morse St. in San Francisco.
Staff writer Brad Wadlow outside 625 Morse St. in San Francisco, where Patricia Hearst was arrested on Sept. 18, 1975, for her participation in The Hibernia Bank robbery on April 15, 1974. (Photo:
"We said, 'Don't move,' Patty said, 'All right,' and we placed her under arrest," said San Francisco police officer Tim Casey, according to a report in the Courier-News on Sept. 19, 1975. "I asked her if she was glad it was all over, and she just didn't say a word."
Bill and Emily Harris, the two of Hearst's surviving kidnappers (the rest had been killed in a 1974 shootout), were arrested at a separate location in San Francisco a little before Hearst's arrest took place.
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After a trial that would be called "the trial of the century," Hearst was sentenced to seven years in prison. Her sentence was commuted by President Jimmy Carter on Feb. 1, 1979, nearly five years to the day of her kidnapping.
Hearst received a pardon from President Bill Clinton on Jan. 20, 2001.
In addition to "Every Secret Thing" (later renamed "Patty Hearst: Her Own Story," to coincide with the release of the 1988 movie about her kidnapping), Hearst also wrote, with Cordelia Frances Biddle, "Murder at San Simeon," and has appeared in several movies directed by John Waters, including "Cry-Baby," "Serial Mom," and "Cecil B. Demented."
Brad Wadlow is Community Content Specialist for MyCentralJersey.com. To get unlimited access to his Pulitzer Prize-worthy work, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
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The Rest Is History
THIS IS ABSOLUTELY CRAZY GET READY FOR SOME WEIRD STUFF HERE WE GO KIDS, I had to do some serious research to get all the facts for this week’s story straight, but we’re talking about how Patty Hearst got kidnapped and the court’s response. Think back to your days in America History class, remember that guy William Randolph Hearst the guy who pretty much invented mass media in America and controlled everything that was printed, so yeah that were flooded with CA$H. His son, Randolph Apperston Hearst, was the father of our star, Patty Hearst.
On February 4, 1974 Patty, at the age of 19 Patty was living with her fiance Stephen Weed in an apartment while attending UC Berkley. It was just a casual night, they were reading and chillin’ when there was a knock at the door, the fiance opened the door to a group of men who came into her apartment knocked out Weed and blind folded Hearst. She was then beat with a wine bottle, kidnapped, and trapped in a closet for 57 days.
Her captors were the Symbionese Liberation Army. They literally made up the word ‘Symbionese’ it doesn’t mean anything. Dictionary.com defines it as it is outlined in the groups manifesto “taken from the word symbiosis … a body of dissimilar bodies and organisms living in deep and loving harmony” I swear to God, google it and only her kidnapping shows up. Anyway, the SLA was a radical activist group led by Donald DeFreeze who had escaped from prison in 1973, It has been assumed it was a terrorist group established for the sole purpose of social revolution through violence, only two years before the kidnapping a bomb factory affiliated with the SLA was found by police and in November of 1973 the SLA shot and killed the superintendent of Oakland schools with bullets laced with cyanide.
So the SLA took pictures of Patty with machine guns, and sent pictures and voice recordings to her parents saying she was okay but they needed to help feed the poor, requesting $70 in food to be distributed for every person from Santa Rosa to Los Angeles.
BUT somehow the Hearsts could not afford that much, but they could afford $2 million. So they started distributing food to the poor throughout Oakland. The food was distributed by the Black Muslims, formerly run by Malcolm X, and turned into a riot more than 10,000 people showed up and fought over food. So the SLA demanded $6 million more, but the Hearst’s could not afford it, so they did not release Patty.
But here’s the cool part. When they let her out of the closet and took the off blind fold, she loved all of her captors. Classic Stockholm Sydnrome. Awesome. (But not really). Only two months after her kidnapping, a voice recording from Patty was leaked worldwide in which she claimed she had voluntarily joined the SLA and her new name was Tania. After that, she became involved in SLA criminal activity such as bank robbery and extortion.
Just before the tapes went out, she was seen having helped the SLA rob the Hibernia Bank in San Francisco. About a month later, on May 17th, the FBI was given the location of the SLA headquarters. The FBI raided and threw poisonous gas canisters into the home, killing DeFreeze and four other SLA members, but Patty was not in the house.
The heiress was eventually found by the FBI on September 18, 1975 and she was sentenced to 35 years in prison after being convicted for bank robbery. Thankfully, she was released in 1979 by Jimmy Carter who reduced her sentencing to less than 2 years and was pardoned by Bill Clinton in 2001.
Even though Patty had been raped, kidnapped, coerced, isolated and brainwashed she was still found guilty. The prosecution suggested Patty had had prior relationships with the SLA and had taken planned her own kidnapping. There is no evidence to support this theory.
This is an interview of Patty with Larry King, it’s kind of heart breaking hearing how the police did very little to help her, and even more they were actually trying to find reasons to arrest her.
This story shows the interesting establishment of cult culture beginning in the 70’s that have been a strange phenomenon in American culture for centuries, but gaining widespread support in the recent decades, along with ideas of psychological effects of kidnapping on hostages. But it also brings to light a juxtaposition in what we think of as the wealthy elite being pardoned for all crimes, yet Patty was still found guilty after obvious abuse.
Artifact of the Month
On the morning of February 4, 1974, a 19-year-old college student named Patty Hearst was kidnapped from her apartment in Berkeley, California by a group of armed men and women. This group of radical anarchist and extremist men and women from different walks of life called themselves the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA). The SLA was attempting to instigate a guerrilla war against the U.S. government and had already shot two Oakland school officials, killing one and wounding the other.
The SLA knew that Hearst was from a wealthy, powerful family, and sure enough, the kidnapping made front-page national news and captured the interest of the American people.
The SLA began releasing audiotapes demanding money and food in exchange for Hearst’s release. In April 1974, the SLA released a tape in which Hearst claimed to have joined the SLA’s fight against the U.S. government herself. Days later, Hearst was caught on camera participating in a bank robbery with the SLA.
The January 2017 Artifact of the Month is the coat worn and gun brandished by Patty Hearst during that infamous SLA bank robbery.
To stop the SLA and find Hearst, the FBI launched a large-scale, agent-intensive investigation. Hearst and other SLA members went into hiding and were on the run until September 18, 1975, when FBI agents caught up with Hearst. She was charged with bank robbery along with other crimes and was found guilty and sentenced to seven years in prison. President Carter commuted Hearst’s sentence after two years, and she was later pardoned.
Patty Hearst kidnapped
On this day in 1974, Patty Hearst, the 19 year old daughter of newspaper publisher Randolph Hearst, is kidnapped from her apartment in Berkeley, California, by two black men and a white woman, all three of whom are armed. Her fiancé, Stephen Weed, was beaten and tied up along with a neighbour who tried to help. Witnesses reported seeing a struggling Hearst being carried away blindfolded, and she was put in the trunk of a car. Neighbours who came out into the street were forced to take cover after the kidnappers fired their guns to cover their escape. Three days later, the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), a small U.S. leftist group, announced in a letter to a Berkeley radio station that it was holding Hearst as a "prisoner of war."
Four days later, the SLA demanded that the Hearst family give $70 in foodstuffs to every needy person from Santa Rosa to Los Angeles. This done, said the SLA, negotiation would begin for the return of Patricia Hearst. Randolph Hearst hesitantly gave away some $2 million worth of food. The SLA then called this inadequate and asked for $6 million more. The Hearst Corporation said it would donate the additional sum if the girl was released unharmed.
In April, however, the situation changed dramatically when a surveillance camera took a photo of Hearst participating in an armed robbery of a San Francisco bank, and she was also spotted during a robbery of a Los Angeles store. She later declared, in a tape sent to the authorities, that she had joined the SLA of her own free will. On 17 May, Los Angeles police raided the SLA's secret headquarters, killing six of the group's nine known members. Among the dead was the SLA's leader, Donald DeFreeze, an African American ex-convict who called himself General Field Marshal Cinque. Patty Hearst and two other SLA members wanted for the April bank robbery were not on the premises.
Finally, on 18 September, 1975, after crisscrossing the country with her captors - or conspirators - for more than a year, Hearst, or "Tania" as she called herself, was captured in a San Francisco apartment and arrested for armed robbery. Despite her claim that she had been brainwashed by the SLA, she was convicted on 20 March 1976, and sentenced to seven years in prison. She served 21 months before her sentence was commuted by President Carter. After leaving prison, she returned to a more routine existence and later married her bodyguard. She was pardoned by President Clinton in January 2001.