Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods


Did She or Didn't She?

Patricia Hearst was the granddaughter of William Randolph Hearst, the wealthy newspaper magnate. Her story is described in "The Perils of Patricia," in The Saturday Evening Post in 1976, and in her autobiography, Every Secret Thing.

Patty Hearst photo sent by SLA (CORBIS)
Patty Hearst photo sent by

In February 1974, she disappeared, supposedly the victim of a kidnapping by the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA). Then in April, she showed up as part of a bank robbery team, holding a carbine rifle while the others robbed the Hibernia Bank in San Francisco of more than $10,000. Two people were wounded as the robbers fled. Hearst released several tapes that indicated some allegiance with these people, who were supposedly fighting a revolution on behalf of the underprivileged. On the tapes, she called her family "pigs." She was now "Tania."

In 1976, after a year and a half on the run, she was caught by the FBI and put on trial. F. Lee Bailey was her defense lawyer and he was quite confident he could get her off. There was much discussion about whether or not she had been brainwashed into her involvement and a great deal of speculation that she had simply fallen in love with one of her captors. In the end, the jury didn't buy the idea of mind control, and Hearst was convicted of bank robbery. She served less than two years in prison before President Jimmy Carter commuted her seven-year sentence in 1979. President Clinton eventually pardoned her.

Kathleen Ann Soliah (AP)
Kathleen Ann
Soliah (AP)

Another member of that gang, Kathleen Ann Soliah, helped to plant two pipe bombs in a police car, meant to kill as retaliation for a shoot-out with the SLA that had resulted in the deaths of their core group. Soliah disappeared in 1976, going underground and reappearing in a St. Paul, Minnesota suburb as Sara Jane Olsen, married with kids. According to Thomas Carney in Los Angeles Magazine, she fed the homeless, read to the blind, and taught English as a second language. She now lived in a degree of affluence that she had once despised and even advocated gun control.

She was caught in 1999 and sent to Los Angeles to face charges of conspiracy to commit murder. In Hearst's book, she says that Soliah had also taken part in a bank robbery in which a customer was shot and killed.

Females can be aggressive, ready to use the weapons of choice more typical of males, but sometimes their aggression is made through romantic gestures that they believe justifies what they do to others.

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