On this day in history: 5th February 1974 – newspaper heiress Patty Hearst is kidnapped
On this day in history, Feb 5 1974, Patty Hearst, the 19 year old daughter of the millionaire US publisher, Randolph Hearst, was kidnapped.
Patty Hearst was an heiress to the multi-million dollar Hearst publishing empire founded by her grandfather, William Randolph Hearst – a flamboyant newspaper owner and the inspiration for Orson Welles’ film, Citizen Kane.
Patty Hearst was kidnapped by a little-known revolutionary group called the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) in front of her fiance in a violent exchange at her home in Berkley, California .
Over the following weeks, the SLA allegedly used psychological techniques to brainwash Patty Hearst into accepting their ideas, until in April 1974 she was caught on CCTV helping them to rob a bank.
Patty Hearst was eventually caught by the FBI. The trial aroused international media interest and she was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment in 1976. Hearst’s legal defence pleaded that her actions were caused by ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ – a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and sympathy toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them and their actions.
Patty Hearst was released from prison after three years and pardoned in January 2001 by President Clinton. Hearst married her police bodyguard, Bernard Shaw, shortly after her release, and now lives in Connecticut with two daughters.