Unspeakable Crimes Remembering Patty Hearst And The Dark Origins Of Stockholm Syndrome  

Genevieve Carlton
48.5k views 14 items

A beautiful California co-ed was kidnapped in 1974 - and two months later, she burst into a bank with a machine gun. In the eyes of America, Patty Hearst quickly went from a sympathetic victim to a criminal terrorist. But was she truly guilty? Patty Hearst images showed her aiming a gun, barking orders in a bank robbery, and committing crimes next to domestic terrorists, but many argue that Patty Hearst suffered from the famous Stockholm syndrome.

Patty Hearst was a wealthy heiress, like Barbara Hutton, the original "poor little rich girl," yet the jurors in Patty's trial didn't go easy on her, nor did they buy her claim that the radical leftists in the Symbionese Liberation Army forced her to commit crimes. And she definitely did commit a lot of crimes: Patty robbed three banks, fired a gun on a crowded LA street, and even made bombs to blow up the police. 

But when the FBI finally captured Patty Hearst, she only weighed 87 pounds, and she'd lost a shocking 18 IQ points in just 18 months. Patty Hearst isn't the only hostage who was brainwashed, and shockingly what happened to Patty Hearst could have happened to just about anyone. The true story of Patty Hearst's horrifying ordeal is enough to convince anyone that she was innocent.

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Photo: PD-CAGov/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Patty Hearst's Kidnapping Shocked The Nation - Until Her Turn As A Bank Robber Shocked Them Even More

Patty Hearst, heiress to the enormous Hearst publishing fortune, was violently kidnapped on February 4, 1974. The kidnappers knocked on her door around 9 o’clock before they burst in with guns drawn. They grabbed Patty, a 19-year-old college student, and beat up her fiancé. Finally, they threw Patty into the trunk of their car and drove off.

Patty Hearst’s kidnapping became one of the biggest news stories of the 1970s. In the two years that followed, she appeared on the cover of Newsweek seven times. And Patty’s kidnapping was only the beginning. Soon, her kidnappers were sending recorded messages to the media, demanding millions of dollars for her release. And the story only got stranger after April 15, 1974, when Patty Hearst burst into San Francisco’s Hibernia Bank wielding a machine gun.

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Photo: FBI

Patty Was Blindfolded And Kept In A Closet For Weeks

After she was dragged from her apartment and thrown into the trunk of a car, she was taken to a house where she was locked in a closet and left there for days. Her hands were bound. She was blindfolded. There was no light in the closet. For 10 days, Patty barely ate. She had no place to urinate or defecate except in the closet, which was only three feet wide. And she didn't know anything about the people who had kidnapped her.

For a week, no one talked to Patty, except for one man who would come in to record her for ransom messages. When her kidnappers finally let Patty out of the closet, they told her that she was going to rob a bank with them.

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Photo: MB298/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA-4.0

Patty Was Kidnapped Because Of Her Rich And Powerful Grandfather

Patty Hearst was the granddaughter of William Randolph Hearst. Hearst was a businessman who built a media empire at the end of the 19th century, and then built an enormous castle on the California coast in the 20th century that he named after himself. Orson Welles’s classic film Citizen Kane was based on Hearst’s life.

And it wasn’t a coincidence that Patty shared the last name of one of America’s richest businessmen. In fact, Patty was targeted by the SLA because she was a Hearst. The SLA hoped that the Hearst family’s wealth and power would convince the police to release two SLA members who had been arrested for killing Oakland’s first black superintendent. But Patty’s family was not as wealthy as her deceased grandfather - her father took out a loan of $2 million to have his daughter released, but the SLA refused to let Patty go.

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Photo: YouTube

Patty’s Kidnappers Told Her That Both Her Family And The FBI Abandoned Her

While the FBI launched a massive search to find Patty Hearst, her kidnappers were whispering to Patty that her family had abandoned her. They told her that their organization, the Symbionese Liberation Army, or SLA, wanted to help the poor. They demanded that her family distribute $70 worth of food to every hungry Californian, which would have cost $400 million. When Randolph Hearst, Patty’s father, donated $2 million worth of food to impoverished people in the Bay Area, Patty only heard that her family had refused the demand. 

Suddenly, the terrified teenager started to wonder if the SLA was right about the “capitalist state.” But she also didn’t have a choice - she had been kidnapped, and her captors were ordering her to work with them or die.