The evidence was fragmentary and scattered and painfully hard to gather, but slowly it accumulateda red Volkswagen camper, a fingerprint discovered at a farmhouse in Pennsylvania, a post office box in San Francisco. Suddenly last week the bits fitted into a pattern. When they did, an FBI agent and a policeman climbed stealthily up the backstairs to the top-floor apartment of the modest house on the edge of San Francisco. They knocked, and the door swung open. Standing in the room was the thin, pale young woman. "Don't shoot," said Patty Hearst. "I'll go with you."
That quiet drama ended a 19½-month chaseone of the longest and most intensive in U.S. historyand climaxed a bizarre odyssey that had a special and disturbing fascination for Americans. They had been appalled by the violence of the whole affair: the strong-arm kidnaping near a college campus, then the bank robbery in which Patty herself wielded a gun, then the surrealistic, nationally televised shootout that left six of her companions dead. With some apprehension, parents debated just why Patty, the heiress to a celebrated fortune, had become a self-proclaimed revolutionary. Many people claimed to have spotted her in various parts of the world, yet she managed to elude the great chaseuntil last Thursday.
Captured along with Patty was her close companion, Wendy Yoshimura, 32. An hour earlier, outside an old white two-story house three miles away, the FBI had arrested two of Patty's other friends: robust William Harris, 30, and his wan and tired wife, Emily, 28. All four were comrades-in-arms in the explosive and tiny cult of revolutionaries who grandiosely called themselves the Symbionese Liberation Army. With the arrests, said the FBI, the S.L.A. had ceased to exist. All dozen members of the group, which had first shown willingness to kill in the ambush-slaying of Oakland School Superintendent Marcus Foster in 1973, were either jailed or dead.
Some of the mysteries of the Patty Hearst case began to lift when the four were arraigned two hours later in a crowded San Francisco federal court. The first to be handled was Wendy Yoshimura, a Japanese-American artist who disappeared in 1972 after being charged with taking part in a plan to bomb the naval-architecture building on the Berkeley campus of the University of California. Federal authorities believe that she and Patty Hearst have been together since at least the summer of 1974. Magistrate Owen Woodruff dismissed federal fugitive charges against Yoshimura, and remanded her to the custody of Alameda County authorities to face arraignment for her part in the Berkeley incident. As she was taken from the courtroom, she paused at the defense table and touched the outstretched hand of Patty Hearst.
Then it was Patty's turn. Newsmen and spectators in the crowded chamber strained to get a good look at the defendant in Case No. 74-364: The United States of America v. Patricia Campbell Hearst. Sitting near her at the witness table was her cousin, William Randolph Hearst III, 26, the first member of her family she saw after her capture. They had been close friends, and he seemed on the verge of tears. They avoided each other's eyes.