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Feb. 4th, 1974: Patty Hearst kidnapped

On Feb. 4, 1974, Patty Hearst, heiress to a media empire, was kidnapped from her San Francisco apartment by the Symbionese Liberation Army
On this day: Patty Hearst abducted by armed radicals 01:26

On February 4th, 1974, a media heiress and relatively unknown undergraduate student at Berkeley was kidnapped by an armed radical group.

All that mattered: Patty Hearst kidnapping 00:49

The victim was Patricia Hearst, the daughter of newspaper executive Randolph Hearst and granddaughter of the legendary William Randolph Hearst.

Her story put a face to a new concept for Americans -- Stockholm Syndrome, where hostages identify with their captors.

Patricia was a 19-year-old sophomore at Berkeley when she was abducted. She and her fiancé were in her apartment when a woman and two armed men burst in, beat and bound her fiancé and a neighbor, dragged Patricia down the stairs, threw her into the trunk of a car and drove off.

"I heard a scream and then I heard what were gunshots. I looked out the window and all I saw were the sparks of the gun going off and I hit the floor," a neighbor told CBS News correspondent Richard Threlkeld at the time of the kidnapping.

"I heard her pleading please no, not me," she continued.

The kidnappers turned out to be part of an armed radical group called the Symbionese Liberation Army, or SLA. According to the FBI, the SLA wanted to "incite a guerrilla war against the U.S. government" to destroy the "capitalist state."

Patty Hearst, or "Tania," is seen on surveillance video during an SLA bank robbery FBI

Over the course of the next two months, the SLA allegedly brainwashed Hearst, and she publicly declared her allegiance to the group on April 3rd, 1974. She took on the name Tania, and just weeks later was seen on surveillance video participating in an SLA bank robbery.

A month later, authorities tracked down an SLA safe house in Los Angeles, which resulted in a shootout that ended with the house going up in flames. Six members were killed, and it wasn't immediately clear whether Hearst was one of them.

But she was alive, and the remaining group members went into hiding. They traveled to various locations across the country and evaded capture for over a year. Hearst was finally taken into custody in San Francisco on September 18, 1975, more than a year and a half after her kidnapping.


Hearst was charged with bank robbery and a number of other crimes, convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison. She served just under two years before President Jimmy Carter commuted her sentence, and she was later pardoned by President Bill Clinton.

Hearst told CNN's Larry King in a 2001 interview that she was bound and blindfolded by her captors, but her attitude toward them changed when they kept her alive.

"Stockholm Syndrome is what it is called when you begin to identify with your captors. I mean, once they don't kill you, [you] start to think they're nice. They get nicer every day that they don't kill you," she said.

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