Disclaimer: This article contains mentions of abuse. Reader discretion is advised.

Newspaper heiress Patricia “Patty” Hearst was in the headlines for years to come after her 1974 abduction from Berkley, California. A group of militants—the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA)—kidnapped Hearst at gunpoint from her apartment.

People Magazine reported that as per the FBI, the SLA’s motive was to make headlines and thrust their agenda into the public eye. One of their main goals was to “unite all oppressed people into a fighting force to dismantle the capitalist state.” They demanded food donations for the poor, prompting Hearst’s family to create a food distribution program, hoping for her safe release.

However, Patty Hearst’s release wouldn’t come until over a year. During the time, the SLA released an audiotape that revealed that Hearst had joined their cause. A photo of Hearst posing with a gun in front of an SLA flag and video evidence from a bank robbery confirmed the claims.

The FBI eventually arrested Hearst on September 18, 1975, about 19 months after her abduction. She faced charges stemming from the bank robbery, following which she even served time in prison. She served two years, and in 1979, President Jimmy Carter commuted her sentence. Then, in 2001, President Bill Clinton gave her a full pardon.

When was Patricia “Patty” Hearst abducted?

Patricia Hearst was a 19-year-old college student living with her fiancé in a Berkley, California, apartment at the time of her abduction. The SLA kidnapped her at gunpoint on February 4, 1974. The radical group was attempting to instigate a guerrilla war against the U.S. government back then, reported the FBI. Hearst, the granddaughter of newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst, came from a wealthy, powerful, and renowned family.

Reportedly, the SLA chose to kidnap Hearst because of her family’s background. They knew her abduction would make front-page news, thus thrusting their agenda into the public eye. As mentioned above, the group claimed that one of their main ideas was to “unite all oppressed people into a fighting force and destroy the system of the capitalist state.”

People Magazine reported that the radicals offered to release Hearst safely in exchange for food donations for the poor. Her family then created a $2 million food distribution program, People In Need. However, Hearst wouldn’t get to see her family despite having met the demands for more than a year.

FBI reported that in April of that year, the SLA released an audiotape in which Patricia “Patty” Hearst publicly claimed to have joined their cause and their fight against the U.S. government. This claim was soon backed by a photo of Hearst posing with a gun in front of an SLA flag.

NBC Bay Area reported that Hearst then took part in a bank robbery in San Francisco on April 15, 1974. During the ordeal, surveillance cameras captured her wielding an assault rifle. She went by the name “Tania” in the group.

According to the People Magazine report, authorities put up wanted posters featuring Hearst across the country. Moreover, they discovered an SLA safe house in Los Angeles in May. The events that followed led to a shootout and the building being set on fire. The incident caused the deaths of six SLA members.

Where is Patricia Hearst now?

FBI’s report mentions that to catch Patricia “Patty” Hearst and stop the SLA, they launched a large-scale investigation. This prompted Hearst and other SLA members to go into hiding and on the run. FBI agents finally caught up to them on September 18, 1975, nineteen months after the kidnapping.

Following her capture, Patricia Hearst faced charges stemming from the bank robbery and several other crimes. She claimed that the SLA members had abused and brainwashed her while holding her captive. Hearst alleged that she was not a willing participant in the robbery, and despite her claims of innocence, she was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison.

Moreover, Hearst’s case led many people to believe that she was a victim of Stockholm syndrome. According to NBC Bay Area, the term describes “the bond that victims of kidnappings or hostage situations sometimes develop with their captors.”

The outlet reported that Patricia “Patty” Hearst served 22 months of her seven-year prison term before President Jimmy Carter set her free by commuting her sentence in 1979. Later, in 2001, President Bill Clinton gave her a full pardon.

Hearst, who now goes by Patricia Hearst Shaw, is 69 years old. She married a police officer, the late Bernard Shaw, who was her former bodyguard while she was out on bail. They also had two children, Lydia Marie Hearst-Shaw and Gillian Hearst-Shaw. In addition, following her release from prison, she published a personal account of her time with the SLA in her book, Every Secret ThingShe also wrote the novel Murder at San Simeon.

The report mentioned that Hearst’s most recent news appearance has been for her dogs winning prizes in the Westminster Kennel Club dog show.

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