this day in crime history: june 16, 1999

On this date in 1999, middle class St. Paul, MN mom Sara Jane Olson was arrested after being profiled on America’s Most Wanted. As it turns out, the socially active mother of three had a secret identity. In a prior life, she was Kathleen Ann Soliah, a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army terrorist group.

Soliah had been in hiding since 1976, when she was indicted for her role in planting pipe bombs that were targeted at police officers in Los Angeles.

Olson eventually pleaded guilty to the explosives charges and to her role in a robbery that resulted in the death of a woman. She was sentenced to 14 years in prison, but her sentence was eventually reduced by a judge.

In 2008, Olson was erroneously released from prison due to a miscalculation by prison officials. She was rearrested and returned to prison. She was paroled in March of 2009 and was allowed to return to Minnesota to serve out her sentence.

Further reading:

CNN – ’70s radical Sara Jane Olson released from prison

Wikipedia – Sara Jane Olson

8 thoughts on “this day in crime history: june 16, 1999

  1. John D.:
    Amazing she managed to elude police for that long…

    The SLA…I think we finally got ALL of them…right?

    Still don’t think her punishment fit her “crimes”…

    Mother of three aka 70s terrorist…wonder how you “phrase” that on a resume ???

    Very good story.

    Roll safe out tehre.


  2. On the one hand, she participated in a robbery that ended in a felony murder. On the other, she fled, stayed clean, and (apparently) lived the next 23 years without committing any more crimes.
    So, was she rehabilitated? Or was she just scared of getting caught? Would spending those same 23 years in prison have made her a better person?
    It makes you wonder about punishment versus rehabilitation.
    My head hurts now. I’m gonna have a beer.


    • That’s a good question. In her case, I think it was all just a big game until that cop was murdered and she had to go on the run. Then reality set in. She did ten years and has kept her nose clean since. Plus, she apparently wasn’t an active participant in the actual murder, so I guess she’s paid her debt to society, so to speak.


      • I think you’re right. She was a dilettante who got in over her head and got scared straight.


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