CRIME: The Hearst Nightmare

  • Share
  • Read Later

(8 of 10)

structured chapter of Students for a Democratic Society. But on only two occasions did he become publicly involved in then activities. The first was when he was enlisted as a ringer to quarterback the chapter's touch-football team to victory over an ROTC squad. The second was when he was accused by a student-faculty discipline committee—and later exonerated—of participating in a sit-in that obstructed a Marine Corps recruiter visiting the campus. Weed was found to be nothing more than a bystander. He was teaching at the Crystal Springs school for girls in Hillsborough when he first met Patty. By last December, the two were engaged, and he had enrolled at Berkeley. Since Patty's kidnaping, Weed has deeply involved himself in the attempt to free her. On April 7, reported New Times, he secretly flew to Mexico City to visit French Marxist Regis Debray, who was one of the original Tania's closest friends. At Weed's behest, Debray wrote Patty a letter that said in part: "I ask you only to assure me that you have consciously and freely chosen to take the name and follow the example of Tania."

The Hearst case's resistant mysteries have spawned a host of speculative theories about what has really happened to Patty. Among them:

> Patty has been killed, and the bank robber was an impostor. There is no evidence to support this dire supposition. It arose apparently because the bank photographs released by the FBI and published in the press are slightly out of focus, making it hard to identify her positively. But the FBI had access to all the bank photographs, and it is certain that the woman was Patty—a conclusion accepted by her parents.

> She was an S.L.A. member all along and helped set up her own abduction. A variation of this theory has Patty helping to plan a kidnaping, not knowing that she was to be the victim (thus her screams as she was carried off: "Please, not me, please!"). Both unlikely conjectures were based on the suspicion—since disproved—that Weed had kept up his leftist contacts and initiated Patty into radical politics. There is nothing in her background or in the circumstances of the kidnaping that would support either version. She had no known radical friends or sympathies, and the man she loved was severely beaten by her abductors. Finally, a piece of evidence was made public last week by the San Francisco Chronicle that undermined the theory. The newspaper reported that three weeks before the kidnaping, local police found a green notebook in which an unidentified S.L.A. member had jotted down these cryptic references to Patty: "At U.C.... daughter of Hearst"; "Junior—art student"; "Patricia Campbell Hearst... the night of the full moon of Jan. 7." Randolph Hearst called the notebook "unquestionable proof that his daughter had "in no way" arranged her own kidnaping.

> Patty, fearing that she might be killed, has pretended to convert to the S.L.A., and was coerced into helping rob the bank. Much of her background, as well as the time she devoted to preparing for her wedding, seems to fit this theory. After her alleged conversion, one student friend said: "It just doesn't sound like her. She's too levelheaded, she's got too much of a sense of humor about things to get involved with something as fanatical as the

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10