By Saul Roth
Patty Hearst, granddaughter of American publisher William Randolph Hearst. Born on February 20, 1954 in San Simeon California, she first rose to fame when she was kidnapped by members from a revolutionary group called The Symbionese Liberation Army.
Though she was found and arrested 19 months after being abducted, the speculation before trial was that her family’s resources would enable this girl to avoid time in prison.
Hearst said that she joined the Symbionese Liberation Army against her will, but rape and threats of death led to this decision.
In 1976, she robbed a bank and was convicted of bank robbery. She served 7 years in prison before being released by President Jimmy Carter who commuted her sentence.
19-year old Hearst was kidnapped from her home in Berkeley on February 4, 1974. A small urban guerilla group called the Symbionese Liberation Army claimed responsibility for this abduction which became known as “The Crime of The Century.”
Hearst’s kidnapping was a lucky break for the SLA. They planned to use her political influence and that of her family, but it turned out the Hearsts happened to live near their hideout when they were looking only in that area due to proximity more than anything else.
Hearst was held for a week in the closet, blindfolded and with her hands tied. During this time SLA founder Cinque repeatedly threatened to kill her if she didn’t do what they wanted.
When asked to decide whether or not she wanted stay with the SLA, Hearst said that it was an easy decision. Her blindfold was removed for the first time since being captured.
On April 15, 1974 Hearst was recorded on surveillance video wielding an M1 carbine while committing a bank robbery at 1450 Noriega Street in San Francisco. She started yelling “I’m Tania; up against the wall”.
When Hearst was arrested, her weight had dropped to 87 pounds (40kg). The psychologist noted that she acted like an “activated” zombie with no emotions or empathy towards others around her.
Hearst’s health began to fail in prison and she suffered from a collapsed lung, which led to other problems. Hearst had emergency surgery after having been diagnosed by doctors., but it didn’t help her condition any more than they expected.
Two months after her release from prison, Hearst married Bernard Lee Shaw (1945–2013), a policeman who was part of her security detail during this time. They had two children: Gillian and Lydia. The Hearsts became involved with an organization helping kids dealing with AIDS as well as other charities that involve fundraising activities.