• Share
  • Read Later

(7 of 10)

Screaming, wearing only a blue bathrobe, Patty was dragged from her apartment by three members of the S.L.A., who kicked and struck her fiance Steven Weed with a bottle before stuffing Patty in a car trunk and speeding off. Trying to meet the S.L.A.'s demands for ransom, the Hearsts gave away $2 million worth of food to the poor in the San Francisco Bay Area. As the food was tossed off trucks in neighborhoods of needy people in San Francisco and Oakland, mobs fought angrily for the supplies, then broke bitterly into small-scale rioting when the gifts ran out.

The astonishing news came nine weeks later on a tape. Calmly and coldly, Patty declared that she had joined the S.L.A. "I have chosen to stay and fight." She called her father "a liar" for claiming to be concerned about her welfare and that of "oppressed people." She insisted that she had not been "brainwashed, drugged, tortured, hypnotized or in any way confused" by her abductors. Included with the tape was a snapshot of Patty holding an automatic rifle in front of an S.L.A. cobra poster—a photo that was to become famous.

The Hearsts received another jolt two weeks later. Striding showily into a Hibernia Bank branch in San Francisco's Sunset district, a black man and four white women wielding semiautomatic carbines announced, "We're from the S.L.A." "This," shouted one of them, "is Tania Hearst!" Unmistakably, the bank's automatic cameras filmed Patty Hearst brandishing a rifle at center stage in the bank lobby. Needlessly opening fire as they left the bank, the robbers fled with $10,960. Declared Patty's distraught father: "It's terrible! Sixty days ago, she was a lovely child. Now there's a picture of her in a bank with a gun in her hand."

When the Harrises were detected shoplifting (stealing a 49¢ pair of socks) at a suburban Los Angeles sporting-goods store, Patty, watching from a parked car, sprayed the storefront with rifle bullets to cover their flight.

On May 17, 1974, an army of 410 agents and heavily armed policemen cornered half a dozen members of the S.L.A. in a small rose-colored house in the south central section of Los Angeles. They pumped more than 5,000 rounds of ammunition into the house, and the fierce gun battle was watched live and in color on television by millions of Americans. The viewers included the Hearsts, who feared that their daughter was in the building as it caught fire and burned to the ground. There were six charred bodies in the smoldering debris, including that of Donald D. DeFreeze, 30, an escaped black convict who called himself Cinque (pronounced Sin-Q) and was the main muscle behind the S.L.A. But Patty, with the Harrises, had managed to escape the shootout—and the nationwide hunt was on again.

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