this day in crime history: february 4, 1974

On this date in 1974, 19 year old heiress Patty Hearst was kidnapped from her Berkley, CA apartment by members of the Symbionese Liberation Army. The following April, she was photographed holding a weapon during a San Francisco bank robbery. She was eventually arrested in September of 1975. She would later claim she was brainwashed by the SLA. The jury at her trial didn’t buy it, and she was convicted and sentenced to 35 years in prison. Her sentence was eventually commuted to 7 years, and she was granted a pardon in 2001.

Further reading:


Wikipedia – Patty Hearst

PBS – The Taking of Patty Hearst

15 thoughts on “this day in crime history: february 4, 1974

    • Absolutely. In fact, Stockholm Syndrome can work both ways, with the hostage-taker actually bonding with his victim. In grad school, I took a course called Crisis Negotiation. It cited cases where hostage takers couldn’t bring themselves to kill their hostages because they had become emotionally bonded. If you ever find yourself taken hostage, it’s better to try establish a positive relationship with your captors. An antagonistic relationship (or no relationship at all) makes it easier for them to dehumanize you in their minds. That makes it easier to kill you when the time comes. Food for thought.


  1. John D.:
    Don’t hear much about the SLA these days…do we?
    (got too many other radical loons wanting to off us as it is)

    I hear she’s behavin’ herself these days, too.

    (has it been THAT long already?)

    Good story.

    Stay safe.


    • I’m kind of on the fence about it. She was with the SLA constantly, so there was ample opportunity to reinforce any conditioning they had done to her. Then again, she could have been in on it from the get-go. But I guess we’ll never know for certain.


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