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Then tne FBI began to get some breaks. TIME has learned that one key factor leading to the capture was that Patty and her companionsthe Harrises and Yoshimurawere abandoned during the summer of 1974 by other radical underground groups. In particular, they were shunned by the Weatherman, the most violent revolutionary organization of the late '60s and early '70s, because of an incident that occurred in Manhattan. At the time, the S.L.A. fugitives were using a West 92nd Street apartment that had been a Weatherman hideout. Pursuing Patty, FBI agents not only discovered the sanctuary but very nearly got their hands on Kathy Boudin, 32. She was a leader of a group that had been making bombs in a Greenwich Village town house, but fled after the bombs accidentally exploded.
The near-capture of Boudin was "too close a call for the Weatherpeople," says a federal investigator. "To them, Patty was nothing but a source of heat. They considered her more of a goofy heiress than a true revolutionary. The word went out to keep away from her."
Deprived of such shelter, Patty and the Harrises next occupied an isolated farmhouse in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains, near the hamlet of South Canaan. They did so, the FBI believes, with the aid of Jack Scott, former athletics director at Ohio's Oberlin College, who with his wife Micki has refused to answer FBI questions or appear before a federal grand jury investigating the movements of Patty and the Harrises.
Keeping a step ahead of authorities, the group left the farmhouse. By the time authorities found the place, only the fingerprints of Wendy Yoshimura remained, but these positively linked her with the other fugitives. Born in a World War II detention camp for Japanese Americans near Fresno, Calif, Yoshimura was a familiar figure in the Berkeley street scene and radical movements, including Venceremos. She had become a fugitive as early as 1972, when explosives for use in the abortive Berkeley bombing plot were found in her garage. Yoshimura and three men were indicted by a California grand jury in the conspiracy.
The crucial clue in the Hearst case, TIME has learned, turned out to be the red Volkswagen. It had been spotted at a farm in South Canaan that the fugitives had used as a hideout. A former owner of the car told authorities he had sold it to one Kathleen Soliah, who had given her address as a post office box number in San Francisco. Checking further, the FBI learned that Soliah had been friendly with S.L.A. members and other radicals, known as the "Tom Thumb" group, suspected of robbing a bank near Sacramento last April 21. A young woman led the masked bandits who looted the bank of $15,000 and killed a housewife with a shotgun blast in the process. Authorities speculated at the time that Patty's band of S.L.A. fugitives might have had a hand in the bank raid.
Accordingly, early last week the FBI set up a surveillance on Kathleen Soliah's postal box in San Francisco and discovered that mail was being picked up by messengers and taken to two addresses: 288 Precita Avenue and 625 Morse Street.