August 31, 1978: 2 Plead Guilty To Kidnapping Media Heiress Patty Hearst

Hearst was beaten unconscious and left blindfolded in a closet for weeks, then she joined her captors and began to committ crimes for them.  

By Gina Tron

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On August 31, 1978, Emily and William Harris pleaded guilty to the kidnapping of Patty Hearst. The husband and wife duo, who went by code names Teko and Yolanda, were members of a left-wing terrorist group called the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA). The group had kidnapped the media heiress in 1974, when she was a 19-year-old college student at The University of California at  Berkeley. Hearst had been beaten unconscious and shots were fired from a machine gun as she was kidnapped.

Hearst later recalled that she was left blindfolded in a closet for weeks. After that, she said she was given a choice: death or fight for the SLA’s cause. "I accommodated my thoughts to coincide with theirs,” Hearst later said. She was then trained by her captors on how to use weapons and began committing crimes for the group.

Hearst was recorded on surveillance video helping to rob a bank in San Francisco in 1974. Two people were shot and wounded in the robbery. She was sentenced to 35 years in prison for the crime but was released early in 1979 after President Jimmy Carter commuted her jail term. Her behavior was widely attributed to Stockholm syndrome.

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