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Timeline: Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst

1964-1973 | 1974-2003  


January 10: Russ Little and Joe Remiro are stopped and arrested by a traffic cop; S.L.A. weapons and propaganda are found in their possession. Nancy Ling Perry sets fire to the safe house in Concord, and the S.L.A. members go underground. Police find the house scorched but not burned down, leaving a significant amount of evidence.

Patricia Hearst and fiance Stephen Weed. February 4: Hearst newspaper heiress Patricia Campbell Hearst, a 19-year-old Berkeley student, is kidnapped. Three members of the S.L.A. force their way into her apartment, badly beating her fiancé Steven Weed and abducting Hearst. Her armed kidnappers will keep her locked in a closet for the first part of her ordeal.

Press at Hearst mansion. February 5: Reporters gather at the Hearst family's mansion in a wealthy San Francisco suburb, Hillsborough, to follow the kidnapping story and interview Patty's parents.

February 6: A letter arrives in the mail at Berkeley's listener-supported KPFA radio station. A "communiqué" from the S.L.A., it states that the group has Hearst, but includes no ransom demands.

February 12: In a recording delivered to KPFA radio, Patty Hearst tells her parents that she is okay. Donald DeFreeze -- "Cinque" -- makes a demand for food to be distributed to poor people in the area and throughout the country.

February 13: Speaking to reporters camped outside his house, Patty's father, Randolph Hearst, replies to the S.L.A. demands, saying they are "impossible."

February 16: In a second tape recording, Patty asks her parents to "stop acting like I'm dead." DeFreeze says that the S.L.A. is looking for "a good faith gesture." Hearst is trapped in a "catch-22" by his daughter's statement, "whatever you come up with is basically okay."

February 19: Hearst announces that he will create People in Need (P.I.N.), a food distribution program. P.I.N. director Ludlow Kramer expects that the program will be able to feed 100,000 people for twelve months with $2 million.

February 20: Patty Hearst's 20th birthday. On a third audio tape, DeFreeze repeats his earlier statement that Hearst's contribution should reflect both Hearst's capabilities and the need of the people. He demands that the amount be increased to $6 million. He also demands that Hearst prove that he will stop committing "crimes" against "the people."

February 22: The first day of food distribution for People in Need ends in riots. Randolph Hearst states that $6 million is beyond his capabilities. "The matter is now out of my hands," he says. His representative makes an offer to pay $2 million upon the immediate release of Patty Hearst and an additional $2 million in January 1975.

February 28: The second P.I.N. food distribution has far fewer problems than the first. Ludlow Kramer will later recall that the program gave away $30,000 of top-quality food.

Governor Reagan and his family. March 4: California governor Ronald Reagan, having earlier predicted that no one would take the food from P.I.N., accuses the thousands of poor people who line up for free groceries of "aiding and abetting lawlessness."

March 5 and 8: The third and fourth food distributions take place through P.I.N.

March 9: In a fourth tape, Patty Hearst is heard to criticize her parents, saying, "I don't believe that you're doing anything at all."

March 10: Newspapers announce they will no longer print S.L.A. communiqués in full.

March 10-13: Randolph Hearst secretly meets with Clifford "Death Row" Jefferson and other inmates who are S.L.A. contacts at the Vacaville prison.

March 25: Food is given away to 30,000 people in P.I.N.'s fifth and final distribution.

March 29: The last American troops leave Vietnam.

March 31: "Death Row" Jefferson and other S.L.A. contacts appeal to the S.L.A. to begin negotiations for Patty's release.

April 2: The S.L.A. promises details of Patty's release within 72 hours in a note sent to the San Francisco Phoenix.

April 3: In a fifth tape recording, sent to KSAN radio station 59 days after the kidnapping, Patty Hearst denounces her family and claims allegiance to the S.L.A. She takes the guerrilla name "Tania." Her family claims she has been brainwashed.

Patty Hearst with gun, captured by security camera. April 15: An unnoticed manager at the Sunset branch of the Hibernia Bank flips a security camera switch. Patty Hearst and four members of the S.L.A. are caught on camera holding up the bank at gunpoint. The bank robbers get away with $10,000.

Donald DeFreeze 'Wanted' poster. April 23: Shortly after the bank robbery, the FBI issues a "Wanted" poster with pictures of Donald David DeFreeze, Patricia Michelle Soltysik, Nancy Ling Perry, Camilla Christine Hall and Patricia Campbell Hearst. Americans debate whether Hearst participated willingly in the robbery, or whether she was coerced. The FBI simply lists Hearst as a material witness.

April 24: In a sixth audio tape, Patty offers evidence of her full participation in the bank robbery -- at no time did her comrades have a gun pointed at her. She refers to her family as the "pig Hearsts" and to Steven Weed, her fiancé, as "an ageist, sexist pig." She says the idea of her being brainwashed is ridiculous.

April 29: Hoping to resolve the Watergate scandal, Richard Nixon releases edited transcripts of conversations recorded in his office. The conversations concern the Watergate break-in and its subsequent cover-up.

April 30-May 1: Just ahead of the FBI, S.L.A. members pack up their weapons and supplies and move from a Golden Gate Avenue apartment to Oakland Street in the Bayview district.

May: The House Judiciary Committee begins impeachment hearings against President Nixon.

May 2: The FBI finds the abandoned Golden Gate Avenue apartment.

Bill and Emily Harris. May 16: Patty Hearst, sitting alone in a Volkswagen while Emily and Bill Harris enter a store in Los Angeles, sees a fight between Bill and the store clerk. To prevent the Harrises from being arrested, she shoots 27 .30-caliber bullets into the storefront. The L.A. police now know that the S.L.A. is in town.

May 17: After a raid on an abandoned West 84th Street apartment, the Los Angeles Police Department finds S.L.A. members Donald DeFreeze, Willie Wolfe, Patricia Soltysik, Camilla Hall, Angela Atwood, and Nancy Ling Perry in an apartment in Compton. The S.L.A. makes use of its sizable arsenal in a televised gun battle with police SWAT teams. Police set the house on fire with gas canisters. A television reporter announces that anyone in the house must be dead or dying. All six S.L.A. members will be killed, and for several hours there will be confusion about whether Hearst is among the dead.

The Harrises and Patty Hearst watch the shootout on TV from their motel room near Disneyland. S.L.A. members Russ Little and Joe Remiro listen to the shootout on a distant TV from their prison cell.

Mike Bortin. June 2: Berkeley radicals hold a rally in support of the S.L.A. Patty Hearst and the Harrises, back in town, make contact with Kathy Soliah, Mike Bortin and several other future S.L.A. members.

June 7: On a seventh tape-recorded message, Patty Hearst offers a eulogy for those killed in the shootout. She proclaims her love for Willie Wolfe and vows that the S.L.A. will continue its fight.

June: Bill Harris, the S.L.A.'s new General Field Marshal, announces that the group is now a unit of the New World Liberation Front (N.W.L.F.). The name will be used freely not only by the reorganized S.L.A. but also by others, in dozens of attacks -- largely bombings of utility sites and corporate offices in California and across the U.S.

June: Radical sports activist Jack Scott reportedly drives Patty Hearst to New York and then rural Pennsylvania, where his wife has rented a farm as a refuge for Hearst, Bill and Emily Harris. Wendy Yoshimura, a fugitive on the 1972 Revolutionary Army bomb factory charges and a friend of Scott, joins them.

August 9: President Richard Nixon resigns.

Summer: The B.L.A., decimated by arrests and deaths, bitterly complains that the black underground has been abandoned by "Euro-American" radicals, and denied support by virtually all black community groups.

November 3: After months without hearing from Patty, Randolph Hearst withdraws his offer of a $50,000 reward for her safe return.


January 2: There is no news of Patty as the date for the final ransom payment of $2 million passes.

April: Russ Little and Joe Remiro are sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Marcus Foster.

Myrnal Opsahl. April 21: Four members of the S.L.A. hold up the Crocker Bank in Carmichael, California. A bystander, Myrna Opsahl, a 42-year-old mother of two who is there to deposit church collection money, is shot and killed.

June 2: A unit of the N.W.L.F. claims credit for the assassination of Wilbert "Popeye" Jackson, president of the United Prison Union, who had played a key role in organizing the Hearsts' food giveaway. The S.L.A. will deny involvement in the attack, in which Jackson's girlfriend was also slain.

September 18: S.L.A. members Patty Hearst, Bill and Emily Harris and Wendy Yoshimura are arrested in San Francisco. When asked for her occupation while being booked, Hearst says, "urban guerrilla."

September 22: Sara Jane Moore, bookkeeper for the P.I.N. food distribution and an admitted FBI informer -- a white suburban matron described by friends as obsessed by Patty/Tania - attempts to shoot President Gerald Ford in San Francisco.


Patty mugshot. March 11: In a sensational trial, Patty Hearst, represented by well-known defense attorney F. Lee Bailey, is found guilty of armed bank robbery and sentenced to seven years in prison. The jury rejects her claim that she was under duress and immediate threat for all of the 18 months between her kidnap and her arrest.

September 29: Bill and Emily Harris plead guilty to kidnapping Patty Hearst. They will serve eight years in prison.


February 1: Twenty-two months into her seven-year term, Patty Hearst has her sentence commuted by President Jimmy Carter.


Russ Little today. June 4: Russ Little is acquitted of the murder of Marcus Foster after a retrial, and released from prison.


January 20: President Bill Clinton issues a presidential pardon to Patty Hearst.


Mike Bortin today. February 14: Former S.L.A. members Bill Harris, Emily Harris, Mike Bortin and Kathy Soliah are sentenced to between 6 and 8 years in prison for the 1975 murder of Myrna Opsahl. They accept responsibility for their actions in open court and apologize to the Opsahl family.

1964-1973 | 1974-2003  

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