- Granddaughter of media mogul William Randolph Hearst
- Was kidnapped in 1974 by members of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA)
- Took part in SLA robberies
- Was pardoned by President Clinton
Born in February 1954, Patricia “Patty” Hearst is the granddaughter of media mogul William Randolph Hearst. She was kidnapped in 1974 by members of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), a domestic terrorist group. Reports say her captors forcibly confined her inside a closet for two months, during which time they repeatedly raped her. Over time, she was brainwashed into joining the SLA’s violent revolution and taking the name “Tania.”
Initially the SLA issued a statement saying that Hearst’s release from captivity would be contingent upon the release of two SLA members who were incarcerated for the 1973 murder of Oakland (California) Schools Superintendent Marcus Foster, but authorities refused to comply with this demand. The SLA then ordered Hearst’s family to donate millions of dollars to feed California’s poor. The Hearsts responded with $2 million worth of food for the San Francisco Bay area’s needy, but the SLA did not free Miss Hearst.
Finally, “Tania” shocked the public when a bank security camera filmed her toting a machine gun, wearing army fatigues, and participating in the April 15, 1974 robbery of a Hibernia Bank branch in San Francisco. A month later, on May 16, she sprayed a Los Angeles sporting goods shop with gunfire to facilitate the escape of SLA members William and Emily Harris, who were robbing the store.
While the Harrises and Hearst hid in a Disneyland hotel following the incident, six SLA members were killed in a gun battle with Los Angeles police on May 17, 1974. With the help of Kathleen Soliah (Sara Jane Olson), the three fugitives went underground in Pennsylvania and New York for a few months. They then resumed their “revolution,” robbing two more banks and planting bombs under police cars.
Hearst and the Harrises, along with Wendy Yoshimura, were arrested on September 18, 1975. Hearst was put on trial for armed bank robbery and the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. In 1977 she was found guilty and was sentenced to seven years in prison. She also later pleaded no contest to charges involving the sporting goods store shootout, for which she was sentenced to probation.
In 1979 President Jimmy Carter commuted Hearst’s sentence after only two years. Two months later Hearst married Bernard Shaw and started a family. In 1982 she wrote her autobiography and eventually became an actress.
When Kathleen Soliah (Sara Jane Olson), William and Emily Harris, and Michael Bortin were tried in 2002 for the 1975 murder of Myrna Opsahl (which occurred during a California bank robbery), Patty Hearst took the stand and testified against them.
Hearst was pardoned for her crimes in January 2001 by President Bill Clinton.