Few kidnappings are as infamous — or controversial — as Patty Hearst’s. In 1974, when she was a 19-year-old sophomore at UC Berkley, the granddaughter of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst (aka the influence behind Citizen Kane) was taken from her apartment by a deadly domestic terrorist group that called itself the Symbionese Liberation Army, or SLA. What followed was one of the most bizarre crime sagas in American history, so it certainly doesn’t come as a surprise that more than 20 years later, people are still trying to wrap their head around what happened. Today, Patty Hearst lives a much different life than the one she did in her early 20s. But nevertheless, she’s still just as fascinating.
When Patty was abducted, she was beaten unconscious and dragged from the apartment she shared with her fiancé at the time. When her kidnappers were eventually caught, they admitted to choosing her as they felt her family’s influence could help bring awareness to their radical ideas — and also, her apartment happened to be close to their hide-out.
Patty Hearst Turns From Heiress to Revolutionary and Then Back in New Archival Documentary https://t.co/3C6t9IgeAa
— People (@people) November 23, 2017
Part of the reason the now 63-year-old’s kidnapping was so controversial was because Patty appeared to join forces with the SLA within months of being abducted. Two months after being taken, she appeared on a security camera robbing a bank with a machine gun in her hand. Two people were shot and wounded during the robbery, and not long after that, she robbed another store, again with a gun. The heiress also was involved in making explosives in an attempt to kill policemen. In 1975, she was arrested and declared a “common criminal” by a judge. “The impact of the photographs of Patty Hearst with the machine gun were in some ways even bigger than the kidnapping itself because it established, or so it appeared, that Patty Hearst had gone over to the other side,” said Jeffrey Toobin, author of American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst.
Despite her claims that she was brainwashed, Patty wound up being convicted of bank robbery and was sentenced to 35 years in prison. However, when President Jimmy Carter was in office, he commuted her sentence and she served less than two years in jail. When Bill Clinton was in office, he pardoned the crime altogether.
After leaving prison, Patty, by the doing of her father, was surrounded by about a dozen bodyguards at all times. In 1979, she married one of them, Bernard Shaw, and before he died, the couple had two children together, Gillian Hearst Simonds and Lydia Hearst-Shaw.
Today, Patty is living a much more quiet life than she has in the past. She’s gotten involved in many charities and is most prominently involved with ones involving children with AIDS. She’s a big dog lover, and in 2015 her shih tzu (Rocket) won the “Toy” category at the Westminster Dog Show. In March of this year, she was linked to socialite, Jamie Figg. A source close to the couple told Page Six, “[Jamie] is very social, they’ve been friends. This was friendship blossoming into something more. Her friends are all very happy for her. She’s once again found happiness.” Happiness and a quiet life: Sounds exactly like what Patty needs.
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