On February 4, 1974, 19-year-old Patricia Hearst of the famous publishing family was kidnapped at gunpoint by members of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA). The FBI worked 12-hour shifts six days a week following thousands of leads to try to recover Hearst. The kidnapping made the SLA front-page news. Members wanted to incite a guerrilla war against the government, and had already killed an Oakland school official, firing cyanide-tipped bullets. The SLA released audio tapes demanding a ransom of millions of dollars in food donations, and then on the April 3 tape, Hearst herself spoke, saying she had joined them. On April 15, she was seen with SLA members committing a bank robbery. On May 16, a shootout with Los Angeles police led to the burning of a safe house where six SLA members died, but Hearst was not among them. She had gone on the run. FBI agents searched for additional safe houses by investigating new utility services. The FBI arrested Hearst in San Francisco September 18, 1975. Despite claims of abuse and brainwashing, the jury found her guilty of the bank robbery and other crimes, and she served two years in prison.
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.
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.
Around 9 o'clock in the evening on February 4, 1974, there was a knock on the door of apartment #4 at 2603 Benvenue Street in Berkeley, California.
In burst a group of men and women with their guns drawn. They grabbed a surprised 19-year-old college student named Patty Hearst, beat up her fiance, threw her in the trunk of their car and drove off.
Thus began one of the strangest cases in FBI history.
Hearst, it was soon discovered, had been kidnapped by a group of armed radicals that billed themselves as the Symbionese Liberation Army, or SLA. Led by a hardened criminal named Donald DeFreeze, the SLA wanted nothing less than to incite a guerrilla war against the U.S. government and destroy what they called the "capitalist state." Their ranks included women and men, blacks and whites, and anarchists and extremists from various walks in life.
They were, in short, a band of domestic terrorists. And dangerous ones. They'd already shot two Oakland school officials with cyanide-tipped bullets, killing one and seriously wounding the other.
Why'd they snatch Hearst? To get the country's attention, primarily. Hearst was from a wealthy, powerful family; her grandfather was the newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. The SLA's plan worked and worked well: the kidnapping stunned the country and made front-page national news.
But the SLA had more plans for Patty Hearst. Soon after her disappearance, the SLA began releasing audiotapes demanding millions of dollars in food donations in exchange for her 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.
That, too, seemed to work. On April 3, the SLA released a tape with Hearst saying that she'd joined their fight to free the oppressed and had even taken a new name. A dozen days later, she was spotted on bank surveillance cameras wielding an assault weapon during an SLA bank robbery, barking orders to bystanders and providing cover to her confederates.
Meanwhile, the FBI had launched one of the most massive, agent-intensive searches in its history to find Hearst and stop the SLA. Working with many partners, we ran down thousands of leads. But with the SLA frightening potential informants into silence, using good operational security, and relying on an organized network of safe houses, it was tough going.
A break came in Los Angeles. On May 16, two SLA members tried to steal an ammunition belt from a local store and were nearly caught. The getaway van was discovered, which led authorities to an SLA safe house. The next day, the house was surrounded by L.A. police. A massive shootout ensued. The building went up in flames; six members of the SLA died in the blaze, including DeFreeze.
But where was Hearst? She and several others had escaped and began traveling around the country to avoid capture. FBI agents, though, were close behind. We finally captured her in San Francisco on September 18, 1975, and she was charged with bank robbery and other crimes.
Her trial was as sensational as the chase. Despite claims of brainwashing, the jury found her guilty, and she was sentenced to seven years in prison. Hearst served two years before President Carter commuted her sentence. She was later pardoned.
And the rest of the SLA? We caught up with them all. The last two members were arrested in 1999 and 2002.
The granddaughter of 19th-century media mogul William Randolph Hearst, Patty Hearst was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army in 1974. She spent 19 months with her captors - joining them in criminal acts soon after her kidnapping - before she was captured by the FBI.Biography.comPatty Hearst
The granddaughter of William Randolph Hearst, founder of the Hearst media empire. On February 4, 1974, at age 19, Hearst was kidnapped by members of the Symbionese Liberation Army. Not long after, she announced that she had joined the SLA and began participating in criminal activity with the group, including robbery and extortion. Hearst was captured by the FBI in September 1975, and the following year, she was convicted of bank robbery and sentenced to 35 years in prison. She was released early, in 1979, after President Jimmy Carter commuted her prison term.
Kidnapped by the SLA
On February 4, 1974, at the age of 19, Hearst was taken hostage by members of the Symbionese Liberation Army, who aimed to garner a hefty ransom from her wealthy father. In a strange turn of events, two months after she was taken captive, Hearst recorded an audiotape that would soon be heard around the world, announcing that she had become part of the SLA. In the months that followed, more tapes with Hearst speaking were released by the group, and the young woman had begun actively participating in SLA-led criminal activity in California, including robbery and extortion - including an estimated $2 million from Hearst's father during her months in captivity.
Trial and Sentence
On September 18, 1975, after more than 19 months with the SLA, Hearst was captured by the FBI. In the spring of 1976, she was convicted of bank robbery and sentenced to 35 years in prison. Hearst would serve less than two years, however; she was released in 1979, after President Carter commuted her prison term. In January 2001, shortly before he left the White House, President Bill Clinton granted her a full pardon.
- Name: Patty Hearst
- Birth Year: 1954
- Birth date: February 20, 1954
- Birth State: California
- Birth City: Los Angeles
- Birth Country: United States
- Gender: Female
- Best Known For: The granddaughter of 19th-century media mogul William Randolph Hearst, Patty Hearst was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army in 1974. She spent 19 months with her captors - joining them in criminal acts soon after her kidnapping - before she was captured by the FBI.
- Industries: Crime and Terrorism
- Astrological Sign: Pisces
- University of California at Berkeley
- Menlo College
- Nationality: American
Patty HearstStockholm Syndrome
Hearst's experience with the SLA, particularly the details of her transition from victim to supporter, has sparked interest for the past several years, including countless psychological studies both inspired and bolstered by her story. The shift in Hearst's behavior with the SLA has been widely attributed to a psychological phenomenon called Stockholm syndrome, in which hostages begin to develop positive feelings toward their captors, an effect thought to occur when victims' initially frightening experiences with their kidnappers are later countered with acts of compassion or camaraderie by those same individuals.
PBS Revolutionary Rhetoric
While the Hearsts negotiated the terms of the food distribution program, something was happening to their daughter in that gun-filled safe house. She would later describe being subjected to hours of revolutionary rhetoric, sleep and food deprivation, rape, and death threats. Barely older than their teenaged captive, members of the group alternately threatened her and educated her about capitalism's "crimes" - and her parents' complicity. Over several weeks, the S.L.A. released recordings that included their incendiary messages and Hearst's flat voice critiquing her parents' food distribution efforts. "I wish to say to Mr. Hearst and Mrs. Hearst," S.L.A. leader Donald DeFreeze intoned, "I am quite willing to carry out the execution of your daughter to save the life of starving men, women, and children of every race."
Life On the Lam
The next 17 months of Hearst's life were spent hiding out with the revolutionaries. Hearst's face appeared on an FBI "Wanted" poster next to those of DeFreeze and other S.L.A. members; the FBI called her a "material witness." Her parents insisted Patty could not have been acting of her own free will. Images of Hearst posing with weapons became counterculture icons, although most people on the Left, along with mainstream America, viewed the S.L.A. as freak extremists. During a bank robbery in April 1975, the S.L.A. murdered an innocent bystander, Myrna Opsahl. When Hearst and her companions were finally apprehended in September 1975, she famously declared herself an "urban guerrilla." "Is she an urban guerrilla or a kidnap victim who would like to go home now?" one reporter asked. The nation and the news media anticipated a sensational trial.
Arguments in Her Defense
The Hearsts enlisted star criminal defender F. Lee Bailey to represent their daughter. Mrs. Hearst insisted, "She's primarily a kidnap victim. She never went off and did anything of her own free will." The defense team accentuated Hearst's fear and terror, along with the abuses of her captivity, and suggested that she may have been drugged into a "disordered and frightened" state. But the jury didn't buy it. On March 11, 1976, they found Patricia Hearst guilty of armed bank robbery and sentenced her to seven years in prison. S.L.A. members would later receive eight-year terms for Hearst's abduction.
After serving nearly two years behind bars, Hearst had her sentence commuted by President Jimmy Carter. She got married and published a best-selling memoir, Every Secret Thing, in 1982. She settled with her family in Connecticut and raised two daughters. Beginning in 1990, Hearst re-emerged in public life, albeit as something of a cult figure, appearing in several movies by director John Waters.
WIKIPEDIA Patricia Campbell Hearst
Born February 20, 1954
The granddaughter of American publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst. She first became known for the events following her 1974 kidnapping by the Symbionese Liberation Army. She was found and arrested 19 months after being abducted, by which time she was a fugitive wanted for serious crimes committed with members of the group.
She was held in custody, and there was speculation before trial that her family's resources would enable her to avoid time in prison.
At her trial, the prosecution suggested that Hearst had joined the Symbionese Liberation Army of her own volition. However, she testified that she had been raped and threatened with death while held captive. In 1976, she was convicted for the crime of bank robbery and sentenced to 35 years in prison, later reduced to seven years. Her sentence was commuted by President Jimmy Carter, and she was later pardoned by President Bill Clinton.
According to Hearst's testimony at her trial, she was held for a week in a closet, blindfolded and with her hands tied. During this time, SLA founder Cinque (Donald DeFreeze) repeatedly threatened her with death. She was allowed to leave the closet for meals, still blindfolded, and began to participate in the group's political discussions. She was given a flashlight for reading and SLA political tracts to memorize. Hearst was confined in the closet for weeks. She said, "DeFreeze told me that the war council had decided or was thinking about killing me or me staying with them, and that I better start thinking about that as a possibility. ... I accommodated my thoughts to coincide with theirs." In an April 1974 account, Hearst claimed that she had been offered the choice of being released or joining the SLA.
When asked for her decision, Hearst elected to remain and fight with the SLA. The blindfold was removed, allowing her to see her captors for the first time. After this, she was given daily lessons on her duties, especially weapon drills. Angela Atwood told Hearst that the others wanted Hearst to experience sexual freedom within the unit. Hearst later claimed to have been raped by William "Willie" Wolfe and DeFreeze.
At the time of her arrest, Hearst's weight had dropped to 87 pounds (40 kg), and she was described by psychologist Margaret Singer in October 1975 as "a low-IQ, low-affect zombie". Shortly after her arrest, doctors recorded signs of trauma: her IQ was measured as 112, whereas it had previously been 130; there were huge gaps in her memory regarding her pre-Tania life; she was smoking heavily and had nightmares. Without a mental illness or defect, a person is considered to be fully responsible for any criminal action not done under duress, which is defined as a clear and present threat of death or serious injury. For Hearst to secure an acquittal on the grounds of having been brainwashed would have been completely unprecedented.