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Patty Hearst would have just become another woman in the American society living her life while enjoying the benefits of being the granddaughter of the renowned American publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst. However, her life took a very different turn when in 1974 at the age of 19, she was kidnapped by the notorious domestic terrorist group SLA – Symbionese Liberation Army who would later indoctrinate her into their affairs. Patty Hearst’s case would become one of the strangest in America’s history. In the end, America and Hearst walked away winners while the SLA was completely wiped out by 2002.
Patty Hearst Bio
On the 20th day of February 1954, Patty was born to into the wealthy Hearst family. At birth, she was named Patricia Campbell Hearst by her parents Randolph Apperson Hearst and Catherine Hearst (nee Wood Campbell). She was the third-born daughter out of the 5 her parents would have. Patty’s dad, Randolph was the fourth and youngest son of the media mogul, William Randolph Hearst renowned for establishing the world’s largest newspaper, magazine, and movie business.
Patty was born in San Francisco, California but for the most part, grew up in Hillsborough, Califonia where she attended the college prep day school, Crystal Springs School for Girls. She later attended the private school, Santa Catalina School in Monterey. Patty Hearst lived a rather normal life, and as her father later recounted, didn’t have a need for a private security as he was only one of the many heirs to her grandfather William’s media empire.
Following high school graduation, she proceeded to attend Menlo College in Atherton, California before transferring to the University of California, Berkeley. Patty Hearst and her then-fiance, were in their apartment in 2603 Benvenue Street in Berkeley, California when at around 9 pm on February 4, 1974, she was kidnapped by armed men who broke into her room.
Her fiance Steven Weed was beaten and tied up alongside a neighbor who tried to help while the armed trio took a blindfolded Patty whom they put in the trunk of their car.
Why Was She Kidnapped?
Shortly after Patty’s abduction, the leftists anti-capitalist terrorist group, the Symbionese Liberation Army claimed responsibility. The group as led by an African-American ex-convict, Donald DeFreeze had targetted Patty Hearst to get the government’s attention since she was from a wealthy and influential family. They succeeded as the news of the kidnap made the headlines of national news outlets.
Their original intention had been to make the Hearst family use their influence to help free two SLA members that were in jail. When that looked impossible they demanded money as ransom to free Patty. At the same time, Patty was being tortured, threatened with death and brainwashed into accepting the group’s ideology. The SLA demanded that the Hearst family donate $70 worth of food to each poor person in the Bay Area which would rack up the cost to $400 million, however, Patty’s father was able to come up with $2 million.
Regardless of the extortion on Patty’s father, Patty was not released, instead, in an ugly turn of events, the SLA began releasing audio tapes of Patty pledging allegiance to the SLA from April 1974, about two months after her abduction. In one of the tapes, Paty was heard saying she had taken on the new name; “Tania.”
Later in April 1974, Patty was seen via bank surveillance cameras wielding a gun alongside other members of the SLA in a bank robbery. The FBI intensified their investigations and in May, discovered an SLA safe house that housed the group. In a heavy shootout that ensued between the SLA members and the cops, the group’s leader DeFreeze alongside 5 others were killed. However, Patty Hearst and the rest escaped.
In September 1975 about 19 months after her initial capture by the SLA, Patty was arrested in San Fransisco while traveling around the country alongside other SLA members in a bid to avoid getting caught. She was charged and convicted of bank robbery after which she was sentenced to 7 years behind bars despite claims that she was brainwashed. Further investigations into her mental state revealed a dip in her IQ among other factors ascertaining her brainwashing claims.
Patty was released in 1979 two years into her sentence after President commuted her sentence. President would later grant her full pardon.
The FBI completely clamped down on the SLA by 2002, bringing an end to the group’s activities.
Where Is She Today?
Following a series of interviews with psychiatrists, Patty Hearst would come to repudiate her allegiance to the SLA. Following her release, Patty immediately went on to live a normal life. During the course of her trial, she had fallen in love with one of her bodyguards, Bernard Lee Shaw whom she married two months after leaving prison. They remained married until Shaw’s death in 2013. Their marriage produced two kids; Gillian and Lydia Hearst-Shaw, the actress, lifestyle blogger, and fashion model.
Patty Hearst has since dedicated her time to charitable causes most notably helping kids with HIV/AIDS. She has authored books about her SLA experience and also acted occasionally in films.
Patty Hearst was biologically set up to be a rich woman and though the SLA drama meant she had to endure hardship for a while, Patty Hearst was thankfully still able to get back to living her life in wealth. It is indeed a privilege to be born with a silver spoon. Her net worth in recent years has been estimated at $45 million.