Where Is Patty Hearst Now? A Tale of Triumph and Turmoil

June 4, 2024


Patricia Campbell Hearst's life story is a riveting tale of privilege disrupted by a radical kidnapping, alleged coercion into criminal activities, and a dramatic legal battle. Born on February 20, 1954, in San Francisco, California, Patricia, often known as Patty, is the granddaughter of media magnate William Randolph Hearst and the daughter of Randolph Apperson Hearst. Growing up in the influential Hearst family, she enjoyed a privileged childhood in Hillsborough, California, and attended several elite private schools before enrolling at the University of California, Berkeley, where she studied art history.

"Patty Hearst /Tanya mugshots, 1975" by simonm1965 is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/.

Kidnapping by the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA)

Patricia's life took a dramatic turn on February 4, 1974, when she was kidnapped at the age of 19 from her Berkeley apartment by the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), a radical left-wing organization. The SLA aimed to exploit her family's influence to free their imprisoned members, demanding the release of their comrades and later a large-scale food distribution.

Details of Abduction

During her captivity, Patricia was held in a closet, blindfolded, and repeatedly threatened with death. She was subjected to SLA indoctrination, political discussions, and even coercion, claiming to have been raped by SLA members.

Involvement with the SLA

In a shocking development, Patricia announced via audiotape in April 1974 that she had joined the SLA and adopted the name "Tania." She was seen wielding a weapon during a bank robbery at Hibernia Bank, which was captured on surveillance camera and became an iconic image of her captivity and apparent allegiance to the SLA.

Further Criminal Activities

Patricia continued to participate in criminal activities with the SLA, including the rescue of SLA members involved in a shootout, making explosive devices, and another bank robbery resulting in the death of a bystander.

Legal Proceedings and Imprisonment

Patricia Hearst was arrested in September 1975. During her trial, the prosecution argued her voluntary participation, while the defense claimed she was coerced and brainwashed. She was convicted in 1976 of bank robbery and sentenced to 35 years in prison, later reduced to seven years. However, after serving 22 months, President Jimmy Carter commuted her sentence, and she was later granted a full pardon by President Bill Clinton in 2001.

Life After Release

Personal Life

After her release, Patricia married Bernard Lee Shaw, who had been part of her security detail. She engaged in charitable activities, especially for children with AIDS, and published a memoir titled "Every Secret Thing." Her involvement in media and cultural activities continued, including acting in films by John Waters and other projects. Patricia also became active in the dog show community, winning awards at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

Media and Cultural Impact

Patricia Hearst's story has been the subject of numerous books, movies, and TV features, reflecting the public's fascination with her complex narrative. Her life encapsulates a privileged upbringing disrupted by radical criminal involvement, legal battles, and her subsequent personal resilience and dedication to charitable causes and media ventures.


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