Blast from the past: First Installment PATTY HEARST KIDNAPPING

  1. #1 Jan 25, 2008
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2008
    I've received a few PMs from people who've liked some of the threads I've posted about significant news and true crime stories from the past, so I thought I'd make this a regular thing. PM me if you have any future story ideas. This installment is about Patty Hearst- ladies my age will remember this well, but some of the younger ladies may not have heard all of this story. And what a story it is. I remember this vividly when it happened and I will never forget it. (Speedy- you were there too, so feel free to join in on this one.)

    Warning: some of this story may be disturbing. This is long but worth the read, IMO
    The Claiming of Patty Hearst

    It was 9:40 A.M. on the fifteenth day of April in 1974, tax day. Customers were going to the Hibernia Bank in the Sunset district of San Francisco to make their usual transactions. Suddenly four white women and a black man walked in and yelled, "It's a hold-up! Down on the floor! On your faces, you motherf----ers!"

    In under four minutes, they robbed the bank of over $10,000, wounded two bystanders, and fled in a getaway car.

    [​IMG] Patty Hearst holding a gun (AP)

    When reviewing the videotape afterward, the police were in for a surprise. Among the hold-up gang they saw the face of a nineteen-year-old woman who'd been missing for over two months: Patricia Campbell Hearst. Not only that, she was brandishing a carbine and acting excited, as if she were one of them. It was to be one of the most incongruous events of that period, the truth of which is still under debate.

    [​IMG] William Randolf Hearst(AP)

    Patty is the granddaughter of the legendary newspaper publisher, William Randolph Hearst. Two black men and a white woman had kidnapped her at gunpoint from her Berkeley apartment on February 4th and taken her captive. They identified themselves as members of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA). The event—the political kidnapping of an heiress from a prominent family---was kept under wraps for twelve hours, and then it began to generate sensational media coverage around the world. Despite national unrest among college students, this young woman had never been a political activist or taken up a violent cause. What was the association?

    The apparent leader, Donald DeFreeze, called himself Field Marshall Cinque Mtume. Like Charles Manson only five years before, he wanted to start a revolution of the underprivileged, and he intended to do that by declaring war on those with status and money. From his followers he commanded total obedience and worship.

    By her account, Patty was kept blindfolded for two months in a closet at the group's headquarters, unable even to use the bathroom in privacy. DeFreeze realized that her visibility as a social figure that had gained the nation's sympathy would showcase his cause, so he worked to turn her into an angry revolutionary.

    From her report, DeFreeze relied on harsh psychological techniques:

    * She was isolated and made to feel that no one was going to rescue her.
    * She was physically and sexually abused by various members of the gang.
    * She was told that she might die.
    * She was fed lies about how the gang was oppressed by the establishment.
    * She was forced to record messages that blasted those she loved.

    By early April, she had a new identity and was deemed ready to accompany the gang on their next daring foray.

    Patty's doting father, Randolph Hearst, had initially responded to the SLA's demands (made by tape and given to the media) by distributing millions of dollars worth of food to the poor, which badly backfired. Groups like the Black Muslims exploited the opportunity to fill their own coffers, and others grabbed the free food to sell at exorbitant prices.

    The SLA also wanted their propaganda published, a demand with which Hearst complied. They said they'd made "an arrest" and that Patty was in "protective custody." Then they insisted that more food be distributed, at which point Hearst laid down a condition---namely, Patty's safe return. Abruptly, all negotiations ceased.

    As weeks passed with no Patty and no further demands, Hearst and his wife feared the worst. Throughout this waiting period, several tapes of Patty's voice were released, and the content of these "communiqués" began to shift in favor of the SLA's agenda. The Hearsts believed that she was being forced to say these things, but then they received a photo of her with a carbine rifle in her arms, standing next to the seven-headed cobra, which was the SLA's symbol. A tape revealed that her name was now "Tania" (after the girlfriend of Che Guevera, a primary mover in the spread of socialism in Cuba and Argentina). She made it clear that she had joined the cause. While Patty had once defied her parents' wishes by living with a man who'd been her teacher, she had never before expressed such sentiments. It all seemed incongruous.

    Not long after that photo and tape, she participated in the "fundraiser" at the Hibernia bank. When the attorney general viewed the video footage, he formed the opinion that Patty had been a willing participant. He got a warrant for her arrest as a "material witness," but her continued involvement with the gang soon changed her status in the eyes of the law to something much more serious.

  2. The S.L.A.'s Agenda

    "Death to the fascist insect that preys upon the life of the people."

    ----SLA slogan

    One thing had quickly linked the kidnapping of Patty Hearst with the Symbionese Liberation Army. Her kidnappers had fired cyanide-laced bullets into her home---the same type of bullets used four months earlier in Oakland on Election Day to assassinate popular school superintendent Marcus Foster. The SLA had sent two letters claiming credit for the shooting and declaring war on fascists by trying to stop the issuing of student photo I.D.s—meant to protect students from drug dealers.

    More was learned about this terrorist group when two of their "soldiers" were arrested on January 10th, three weeks before the kidnapping, and after the police located an abandoned safe-house with all kinds of propaganda:

    * "Symbionese" was derived from the word, symbiosis, meaning dissimilar organisms living in harmony.
    * Their symbol, the seven-headed cobra, represented the seven principles of God and life.
    * The leadership showed a strong female influence—and in fact, the actual leader was a lesbian called Mizmoon Soltysik.
    * They had a vague agenda of protecting the rights of "the people."
    * DeFreeze, 31, was a black ex-con among a handful of white veterans, ex-cons, and disenchanted women.
    * DeFreeze's criminal record consisted of a series of petty crimes, and all of his victims had been black.
    * DeFreeze took his name, Cinque, from a captive African being transported to Cuba who had taken over the ship.
    * There were currently only nine "soldiers" in this "army," more females than males.
    * The SLA appears to have been influenced by 1) the anti-war movements of the 1960s that spread across college campuses and caused riots, and 2) prison programs that urged African Americans to band together as brothers.
    * After the Foster killing, they made plans to kidnap Hearst—documents that law enforcement had found before the event but had failed to act upon.

    The two men in custody were soon linked via a .38-calibre pistol to the Foster killing. They went to prison, although one was later released.

    Knowing about the SLA, however, did little to stop them from planning further antisocial escapades.

  3. The Arrest

    Forty-eight hours after the April 15th bank robbery, black police officer Rodney Williams received a communication from the SLA. Once again, it was a tape of Patty's voice and she sounded enraged.

    She explained that she and her "comrades" had robbed the bank. "My gun was loaded," she claimed, "and at no time did any of my comrades intentionally point their guns at me." Their actions were justified to finance "the revolution." She called her parents "pigs," dismissed her fiancé, and then said, "As for being brainwashed, the idea is ridiculous to the point of being beyond belief." She ended by declaring that "I am a soldier of the people's army."

    Even so, there was good reason to believe that Patty's sudden membership in the SLA was insincere. This was a girl who had broken off with her first boyfriend after he'd smoked some pot. In letters to him, she'd expressed extreme distaste for hippies and the filth in which they lived. Before being kidnapped, she had a good relationship with her parents, was excited about getting married, and lived on an allowance that financed her expensive apartment.

    There are theories that she fell in love with one of the men in the group—and in fact she said as much in one of her tapes. There was also talk that she'd had some association with the SLA before her kidnap---and possibly helped to arrange it (although the brutal beating of her fiancé belies this). Yet whether her involvement was out of fear or sympathy, there are certainly some unanswered questions.

    For the year she was on the run, she never contacted her family. Why not? Even in her own book on her experience, Every Secret Thing, she fails to address this issue, 'though she claims that she was in fear for her life throughout her ordeal.

    Yet a month after the bank robbery, Tania sat alone in a van outside a Los Angeles sporting goods store where two other SLA members, Emily and Bill Harris, were shoplifting. When they were apprehended, she fired a series of warning shots that barely missed killing the storeowner but allowed the thieves to escape. "Let them go, you motherf----rs," she shouted, "or you're all dead." They then stole one car after another to elude capture, and one kidnapped victim claimed that Patty appeared to be very much in league with the SLA. There was no indication that he could see that she was afraid or coerced. In fact, she had volunteered negative opinions of her family and former life that sounded sincere.

    When news spread, everyone wondered why Patty not only had remained in the van but also assisted in an illegal act. This did not appear to be the behavior of someone forced into submission. (Patty later claimed that it was automatic, the result of her "training.")


    The fire at SLA hideout after shoot-out

    The next day, May 17th, 1974, a two-hour gun battle between the SLA and the LA police ignited a fire that fatally trapped six "soldiers" in their cramped East 54th Street hideout. Nine thousand rounds were fired when 500 cops descended on the house, and the drama was televised, similar to the Waco fiasco in which the David Koresh cult would be killed two decades later. Eighteen requests to surrender were issued and ignored before the first tear gas canister was thrown. Three members were shot as they tried to escape, two succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning, and DeFreeze shot himself in the head. Since the "army" was not very large to begin with, this pretty much wiped them out. While America feared that Patty would be found among the dead, in fact, along with Bill and Emily Harris, she was alive and well and now a fugitive.

    William & Emily Harris

    She left behind another tape on which she expressed her horror over the killing of her comrades, eulogized them, and spoke of her deep love for member Willie Wolfe, a.k.a., Cujo. "I died in the fire on 54th Street, but out of the ashes I was reborn," Patty said. "I know what I have to do."

    Kathleen Soliah, 1974

    Sympathizers and new recruits assisted them, including a woman named Kathleen Soliah. Patty wrote about her in her autobiography, Every Secret Thing. Soliah herself eventually went into hiding by changing her identity after an alleged attempt to bomb a police car backfired.

    In September 1975, a year and a half after her life had been so brutally altered, Patty Hearst was found in an apartment with two other SLA members and arrested by the FBI. They charged her with bank robbery. Her family hired the famous attorney F. Lee Bailey to defend her in court.

    F. Lee Bailey at a press conference (CORBIS)

  4. The Controversial Trial

    F. Lee Bailey was a renowned trial attorney, having made history with Sam Sheppard's acquittal, arranged a deal for Albert DeSalvo (the Boston Strangler), and successfully defended Captain Ernest Median in the 1968 My Lai massacre in Vietnam. (However, he'd also thrown one client, Charles Schmidt, a.k.a., the Pied Piper of Tucson, to the wolves, and been accused by DeSalvo of swindling his movie money.) Bailey never hesitated to exploit the media to his advantage.

    Having had a bestselling book, he accepted the Hearst case with the stipulation that he get the book rights and that Patty not pen a memoir for at least 18 months after the publication of his. In this he was overly confident. This would not be his shining hour.

    The presiding judge was Oliver Carter, who defied legal ethics by granting interviews to Time and the New York Times. He claimed to have known Patty since she was five, which was not true, and to have been in the Hearst home, also untrue. Patty requested another judge, but her lawyers refused to pursue it.

    [​IMG] District Attorney James Browning

    The prosecutor was James Browning, the U. S. Attorney for Northern California, who had not tried a case in seven years. He wanted this one all to himself.

    Beginning on February 4th, 1976---exactly two years to the day that Patty had been kidnapped---the trial lasted 39 days, generating a barrage of unsympathetic commentary. Many Americans could not understand how an educated, privileged young woman could join a band of cutthroat revolutionaries and do the things she did.

    Stephen Soliah in custody

    While her trial was in session, Kathleen Soliah was indicted in absentia for conspiracy to commit murder with explosives. Her brother Stephen, arrested with Patty, also went on trial.

    Bailey hired medical and psychiatric experts to listen to Patty describe her ordeal, wherein SLA members abused her, kept her blindfolded, and threatened her with death, while also subjecting her endlessly to their ideologies. Using those details, the experts were to explain to the jury the notions of mental deterioration and brainwashing.

    Psychologist Margaret Singer indicated how Patty's IQ had fallen drastically, while Dr. Louis Joloyn said that she'd been in a state of extreme physical stress. Several experts in mind control—Dr. William Sargant. Dr. Martin Orne, and Dr. Robert Jay Lifton---affirmed that Patty had been brainwashed into accepting the SLA's political ideology. However, their details were inconsistent and they failed to apply the research adequately to Patty's rather unique situation.

    To counter this, the prosecution called on Dr. Joel Fort, a man who went from one trial to another but appeared to have no clear credentials (which Bailey was not allowed to challenge). Fort claimed that Patty was a willing participant and a "rebel looking for a cause."

    Emily and Bill Harris refused to testify against Patty, but offered damning information via media interviews. Browning exploited this and also used video footage to show Patty's apparent delight in participating in the armed robbery with her comrades. A witness indicated that she had smiled at DeFreeze before exiting. The prosecution also pointed out that Patty was unwilling to testify against the other captured members of the SLA, which showed her sympathy for them.

    What really hurt her case, in Patty's estimation, was Bailey's closing argument. As he grabbed his notes, she could see that his hands were shaking and his face was flushed. She had the impression that he'd been drinking. His comments to the jury were rambling and irrelevant. Then he knocked a glass of water off the podium and the water hit his crotch. For the rest of his closing, it appeared that he'd wet his pants. Later Patty was to write about how jury members giggled: "It was, to say the least, distracting." To make matters worse, he had flown each evening to Las Vegas to conduct a seminar, and had then flown back for the trial. It was the feeling of many that Bailey's inability to make a forceful statement, whether he was exhausted or inebriated, decided Patty's fate.

    On March 20, after a twelve-hour deliberation, the jury returned a verdict of guilty. She received the maximum sentence: 25 years for the robbery, plus ten on the firearms charge. However, a judicial review---which occurred after Judge Carter died---shortened that to seven years. In a second trial on the charges involved in the incident at the sporting goods store, she was given five years probation. An appeal to the Supreme Court was declined, and Patty ended up in the Federal Correctional Institute in Pleasanton, California.

    The verdict was argued as fiercely in the American public as the O. J. Simpson verdict in the 1990s, in part because the brainwashing defense was so unusual and so difficult to prove or disprove.

    Let's have a closer look.

  5. The Brainwashing Theory

    As a defense witness, Dr. Robert Jay Lifton provided the most eloquent expression of personality transformations. In 1961, he had published a book called Thought Reform to discuss a pattern of behavior that he'd observed among prisoners of the Communist Chinese in the 1950s. Some Chinese had described to him a series of identity shifts related to their embrace and subsequent rejection of communism.

    Such transformations are possible, Lifton said, because of the adaptive and malleable nature of the self. If the pressure is strong enough, people exposed to new environments and beliefs can actually change their entire perspective. In times of restlessness and transition, such as was evident in America during the 1960s and 1970s, many people were vulnerable to personal transformation, especially young people. The more fluid the social milieu, the more fluid the person. But when we feel that we're losing our mooring, we locate ground in anything that promises structure. In the process, we can actually merge incompatible elements of identity. The psychology of the survivor often involves symbolic forms of death and rebirth.

    Lifton compared brainwashing to how the SLA zealots operated with Patty:

    1. Milieu control – the control of communication by creating a totalitarian environment and "loading" language with ideological and emotional terms. Everything the person is exposed to is based on the zealot's truth.
    2. Mystical manipulation – they use their mystique to provoke certain behaviors and emotions in a person but make it appear to arise spontaneously; they rely on making the impression that they're serving a higher purpose and their ideas are sacred. People who feel trapped by this resort to "the psychology of the pawn," by subordinating themselves to the ideology and adapting. It's less painful to flow with the tide than against it.
    3. Demand for purity – By purging those ideas and behaviors that are inconsistent with the group ideology, they can become "pure." Shaming and guilt-producing tactics are used, and the cult leaders are the ultimate arbiters of what is good and bad. Denouncing "bad" thoughts and behavior is a relief to the captor.

    It didn't seem such a stretch, but the jury was nevertheless confused.

    In their post-trial edition, The Saturday Evening Post jumped on this bandwagon by running a lengthy editorial on the methods of brainwashing. In an informal survey of military men and missionaries, they found that even those prepared for it may still be brainwashed into accepting an enemy's ideology, even to the point of harming their country. The editors offered the typical steps involved:

    1. Confinement under inhuman conditions to lower resistance (such as being kept blindfolded in a closet for 57 days).
    2. The insistence on confession of past misdeeds (such as being raised in a privileged family).
    3. Manipulating confessions into the context of the ideology (Patty had it all while many people are starving). The confession becomes self-criticism.
    4. Telling the person that his former society had turned against him (Patty was told that her parents would not meet the ransom demands).
    5. "Undeserved" liberties are granted commensurate with the person's conversion, which makes the person grateful to his captors. (She denounced her family on tape.)
    6. The person's weakened physical state and feeling of shame and inferiority merge into a bond with the captor. (Patty joined the SLA in their criminal activities.)
    7. Captors prove their sincerity by using the same tactics on their fellow prisoners. (Patty took part in a bank robbery and helped two members elude arrest.)
    8. Even upon returning to society, the person will experience confusion and doubt. (She exhibited this behavior.)}

    These procedures, the editorial went on to say, are not unlike those used in boot camp to get recruits to become part of a fighting team, for the honor of the country. In other words, it's used because it works, and DeFreeze knew how to do it.

    In addition, Patty had some clear disadvantages. She had no training in these tactics, she was young and vulnerable, she'd been protected most of her life, and she lived among college students who articulated anti-establishment values. There's no reason to doubt that she had been under duress sufficiently traumatic and manipulative to produce the shocking behavior for which she was on trial.

    To buttress this argument, Flo Conway and Jim Seigelman coauthored a book called Snapping: America's Epidemic of Sudden Personality Change in which they analyzed Patty Hearst as an exemplar of their thesis.

    Mind-altering experiences may threaten the brain's ability to process information, they wrote, which leads to altered thinking and stress disorders. Patty's personality was methodically destroyed to the point where she underwent a dramatic and traumatic personality change. Then as she watched her captors die in the safe-house fire, surrounded by an army of police, she believed that what they had said about society was true. She thought that the police were now out to kill her. She had no idea why she failed to contact her parents, except that she did not trust them. Yet in retrospect, the way she was thinking at the time made no sense to her.

    In an interview three years after her kidnapping, Conway and Seigelman believe that Patty showed all the signs of a cult victim. She laughed and cried in odd places, and offered little detail about her ordeal in the closet, claiming only a vague memory. She had mood swings and a great deal of anxiety. To their mind, her avoidance of the subject indicated extreme trauma, which meant that she could not freely form real criminal intent.

    While their thesis may be true, all of the examples they use also support the possibility that Patty was protecting herself and her new friends by acting confused. In fact, friends who knew her before the kidnapping viewed her as a chameleon who could shift her personality at will to suit her purposes. Emily Harris claimed that Patty had worn a piece of jewelry that Wolfe had given to her right up until her arrest, indicating that her involvement was emotional and not the result of brainwashing. If she identified with Wolfe early into her captivity and accepted his ideas, as many women do when in love, then her decision to join the SLA makes as much sense as the brainwashing theory.

    [​IMG] Former President Jimmy Carter

    At any rate, the jury didn't buy the defense and Patty served twenty-one months before President Carter commuted her sentence in 1979, giving her strict terms of parole. However, her conviction remained on record, so she continued to apply for a pardon with successive presidents, based on her claim about being brainwashed.

    Hearst went on to become an actress in low-budget movies. She married her former bodyguard, Bernard Shaw, moved to Connecticut, wrote a couple of books, and had two daughters. Yet she did not have the full rights of most Americans.

    For Patricia Hearst Shaw, life moved on and the events of the mid-1970s began to fade. Then one of the SLA fugitives was located.

  6. The Haunting of Patty Hearst - Kathleen Soliah
    Kathleen Ann Soliah arrested

    In June 1999, after twenty-four years on the run, "Sara Jane Olson" was arrested in her upper-scale, five-bedroom Tudor home in St. Paul, Minnesota, and charged with being Kathleen Ann Soliah. For an amateur actress, she'd pulled off an impressive act. Olson initially denied the charge, and her friends and family raised the money for her $1 million bail. Many people believed that the FBI had made a terrible mistake. After all, Sara read to the blind, went to church, and advocated gun control. Yet eventually she acknowledged that she had indeed been part of the SLA but quickly moved to legally change her name to Olson. How involved she was in their crimes is unclear.

    Having renounced her Republican sympathies in college, Olson met SLA member Angela Atwood through their mutual involvement in local theater. Olson sympathized with their cause and allegedly became a member of the "second team" that formed after the safe house fire. Atwood was among those who died, prompting Olson to give a fiery speech at a Berkeley rally, which was filmed by undercover police. Then she allegedly assisted Patty, along with Bill and Emily Harris. Emily recruited her into membership and she became a key player.

    According to Hearst's memoir, Soliah had seemed to hardcore SLA members "too flaky to be trusted," but as their numbers dwindled, her name came to the top of the list. She was so excited to be contacted that she immediately handed over all of her ready cash to assist with the cause. She also persuaded her sister to withdraw all her funds and hand over the money, and got her brother Steve involved. "Kathy had promised," Hearst writes, "that she would do everything she possibly could to help us."

    Soliah was embraced with enthusiasm, an enthusiasm that she returned. She came up with names of other radicals who would join and insisted that she was willing to take part in any warfare needed to wound the establishment. She had a friend, Jack Scott, who was a writer and who could offer safe haven across the country if they needed it. He currently lived in New York.

    As Scott came into the group, Hearst viewed him as someone who believed he was smuggling slaves to freedom. He was doing something noble, and in fact offered to arrange to have them all driven across the country himself. He got his own parents to take him and Patty. On that trip, she developed her impressions of him as someone who wasn't quite okay---he talked a lot and he was nervous all the time---while he developed his impressions of her, which he apparently kept to himself.

    In short, while readers of Hearst's book get an eyewitness account of Soliah's whole-hearted involvement in several illegal activities, it's also clear that Hearst is more of a participant than she admitted when she was finally in custody. Nevertheless, her descriptions of Soliah's behavior and attitudes certainly fortify the prosecution's case. Soliah/Olson was unreservedly one of them.

    In retaliation for the fatal fire, she is thought to have placed pipe bombs in the tailpipes of two Los Angeles police cruisers. Designed to blow a hundred construction nails at anyone in the vicinity, as well as kill occupants of the car, they failed to detonate. A hardware store employee identified Olson from mug shots as the purchaser of a pipe used to make the bomb, so she was indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit murder, for which she could face 20 years to life in prison.

  7. [​IMG]
    The house where Hearst was kept

    Ironically, it was through Olson that the FBI located and arrested Patty Hearst. In 1975, they had her under surveillance and soon discovered where the Harrises lived. Bill and Emily were arrested on September 18th, while jogging. Olson and her gang heard about the arrest on the radio, and fled. Then Olson's brother, Stephen Soliah, was caught on his way to a second safe house to warn Patty, and police soon found her there. Olson quickly went underground. By some reports, she went to Minnesota, where she met Fred Peterson, who was to become her husband. They went together for a stint in Zimbabwe, where she taught English. Then they returned to Minnesota, where Peterson was hired to be an ER physician. They had three daughters and got involved in their community.

    Los Angeles Police Detective David Reyes and his partner, Mike Fanning, acquired the cold case via the son of Mervin King, the police captain who had been in charge of investigating the SLA bomb scare on the police cruisers. Reyes and Fanning started sifting through two boxes of records and soon became obsessed with finding Soliah. With help from the FBI, they interviewed Soliah's parents. They also acquired a digitally-enhanced photo from experts working for "America's Most Wanted," so they could see how Soliah would look two decades later. Her mother, who had firmly resisted giving up any information, said the photo did not look like their daughter and she pulled out a recent photo to prove it.

    Tracking more leads, the cops learned through a reporter that Soliah was interested in a deal. The L.A. police were not about to give her immunity or just a fine, so the indirect conversation was over.

    They speculated that Soliah might live near her brother in Iowa and zeroed in on a professor that had a similar appearance. That proved to be a dead-end. On May 15, 1999, the "America's Most Wanted" episode about Soliah was televised, generating around twenty useless tips in response to the impressive FBI reward. Then one paid off. With the help of the St. Paul police, they stopped Soliah/Olson, now 52, for a "traffic violation" and arrested her. She surrendered but demanded her lawyer. At first, bail was denied, but then was set at $1 million.

    In October, four months after Olson's arrest, Patty Hearst was ordered to appear as a witness for the prosecution, because they intended to question Olson about other SLA events besides the defunct bombs. Patty had written about Soliah's escapades in her 1982 memoir, implicating her in several crimes. Prosecutors believe that Olson had disguised herself as a man to lead a 1975 bank robbery in Carmichael, California, in which a bank customer was murdered. (Myna Opsahl, 42 and the mother of four, was there to deposit church funds. She placed her adding machine on the counter as ordered, and either Emily Harris or Kathleen Soliah allegedly pointed a shotgun at her that went off.) They escaped with $15,000.

    Olson engaged Stuart Hanlon and Susan Jordon to defend her. Hanlon had been the defense attorney for other SLA members, Bill and Emily Harris (who served eight years for kidnapping).

    Among the items over which the prosecution and defense argued were:

    * The taped grand jury testimony of the hardware store employee, now deceased, who identified Soliah as the purchaser of a bomb part.
    * The admission into testimony of the history of the SLA crimes.
    * The testimony of an explosives expert, now dead, who evaluated the bombs and said that they could have been fatal and that their components matched bomb-making material found in Olson/Soliahs's apartment.
    * Having cameras in the courtroom (Olson wanted them).
    * The testimony of James Bryan, a police officer who claimed that Olson, as Soliah, looked at him across the parking lot when the bomb failed to go off and she had "hatred in her eyes."

    In January 2000, Judge Ideman made some rulings: the SLA history and Bryan's testimony were in, there were to be no cameras in court, and the taped testimonies of the hardware store employee was out. He also issued a strict gag order---no one involved was to discuss the case or his rulings with the media.

    Another issue that suddenly arose was the need to go to Oregon to get testimony from Jack Scott, with whom Patty Hearst had allegedly had conversations while she was in the SLA. If she was going to testify, then Olson was going to discredit her, going all the way back to statements she had made under oath in 1975. Scott claimed that Patty had resisted returning to her parents, had been lovers with Willie Wolfe (rather than being raped by him), had helped to plan the kidnap to escape her impending marriage, and was the most zealous member of the SLA. He had observed her making her "daily death list."

    However, Scott had throat cancer and was on his deathbed. They would have to go to him to get his statement, but the judge wasn't so sure that was legal and prosecutors delayed things further by claiming they would need a month to prepare their own questions. On the day Ideman finally granted the emergency order, February 4th, Scott succumbed to his illness and died.

    Then there were further delays, Hanlon resigned in March to meet family obligations. Since Olson was now out of funds, an alternative public defender, Henry Hall, was provided by the state of California. The trial was postponed until August so he could prepare.

    It did not take place in August.

    While Hearst waited to see if there would indeed be a trial, President Carter interceded on her behalf with President Bill Clinton. Just before leaving office, in January 2001, Clinton issued a full pardon. Patty was grateful to have her record expunged so that she could participate as a regular citizen again, but Olson felt that this turn of events gave Patty more credibility than she deserved.

    A case this old is shaky at best, and will likely be difficult to prosecute. Even in 1976, with 28 witnesses testifying before the grand jury, the case was mostly circumstantial. With the loss of several key witnesses on both sides, and with the tide of public opinion against wasting the money to prosecute Olson, it's difficult to say what will happen. However, there may yet be another interesting chapter in the strange story of Patty Hearst.

    Despite tearful pleas from her daughter, Sara Jane Olson was sentenced to 20 years to life for her role in two attempted bombings in 1975. Even though she may serve as little as five years, the sentencing came just two days after Olson and four other members of the Symbionese Liberation Army were charged in a separate case with the murder of a bank customer during a 1975 robbery.

    note: Kathleen Soliah (aka Sara Jane Olsen) is still in prison in Chowchilla, CA. Her original sentence was thrown out in 2004 and she was scheduled to be released in Feb. 2008. A higher court then reversed that decision. She will be released in late 2009. (Source: wikipedia.)

    Patty Hearst then:



    And now:

  8. Wow Roo, this brings back memories, eh gal? This all came on the heels of the Manson murders and it was then I swore I'd never live in SoCal!

    Personally, I think Olson should be out by now. Out and out murderers get less time than she did. I feel it's all because of the noritity of the case and the "attemped" murder of two LA policemen, as well as the rest of the actions of the SLA... had it not been for the people she was associated with at the time, they wouldn't have thrown the book at her.

    As for Patty... I've always been torn about her involvement... whether or not she was a scared kidnapped victim who suddenly turned into a player with Stockholm Syndrome or if deep down she was always a willing accompliace. I do remember reading somewhere that during the bank robbery, one of the other members always had their gun trained on Patty, as if to shoot her should she not "act" like she too was robbing the bank, along with the question of were there bullets in her gun? To think day, I don't know.

    But deep down in my heart I do think she was forced to do the things she did. A good classic case of a recent kidnapped victim who was determined early on to have Stockholm Syndrome was Elizabeth Smart... not only did she not give her name to police when it was obvious she was safe, but she asked with concern what would happen to her kidnappers. (Anyone wondering what Stockholm Syndrome is, google it. A good article could explain it better than I can, but basically it means a kidnapped person who begins to feel sorry for their kidnappers and begins to become a part of their "family".)

    It was a highly pubisized (Patty's father was a famous newspaper owner) case that overshadowed all news for months here in California and elsewhere. I remeber seeing the food giveaway fiasco on TV... first time I ever saw televised humans behave like animals.

    Patty Hearst married her bodyguard, didn't she? I also know she did have bit parts in movies and TV shows for awhile as well.
  9. Yes speedy, I will never forget this either. I was still pretty young when this happened but I remember being really scared about the people who kidnapped her. She did marry her bodyguard and they have been happily married for many years. I believe they live in Connecticut. She was also in at least one John Waters movie! Patty has a daughter named Lydia Hearst Shaw who is a model and actress.

    Her on a vogue cover:


    She is the redhead on the right


  10. I definitely wasn't around when this happened, but of course I remember it, and it's pretty interesting. I think it's impossible to prove either way, but have to agree with Speedy that it was most likely Stockholm Syndrome. I recognize her daughter...pretty Twiggy-like Vogue cover.
  11. I was going to say she looks like the Twiggy cover as well!

    I totally forgot she had a daughter, well, I knew she did, but to me she's still a little girl! (But then, my 34 year old is also a baby... lol!) Wow, she sure is pretty.

    I'm sorry, but I do believe one can be brainwashed. We all say we can't, we'd never give up our morals and values, but one never knows what one will do in a bid for self-preservation.

    Excellent idea Roo, bringing up old cases. Something you and I enjoy talking about, eh? Bring em on!
  12. I think Patty has several daughters..
  13. I remember when she had her first child, it made the news... after that she (or I) kinda fell to the wayside as far as making news. Or my brain cells got full up with other cases... lol!

    I'm happy for her... I never thought she should serve time for what happened, but I also didn't understand the judicial system as well as I do now.
  14. Exactly! She was terrorized, raped and kept in a closet, that has some effect on a person.

    Good thread Roo!