Newspaper heiress Patty Hearst was kidnapped 46 years ago Tuesday, putting in motion a bizarre chain of events that ended with her being convicted of robbing a bank with a terror group and then being pardoned by President Jimmy Carter.

Hearst, who was 19 at the time, was taken by armed members of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), a leftist group, from her Berkeley, Calif., apartment, according to the FBI. The group wanted to incite a guerrilla war against the U.S. government and destroy the "capitalist state."

Authorities said Hearst was targeted because she came from a wealthy, powerful family. Her grandfather was newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst.


Patty Hearst holds an assault rifle while robbing a San Francisco bank on April 15, 1974 with other members of the Symbionese Liberation Army, a leftist group bent on going to war with the U.S. government.  (FBI)

The group announced the kidnapping on a radio show and demanded food donations to help the poor in California so negotiations could begin for Hearst's release.

"At the same time, they apparently began abusing and brainwashing their captive, hoping to turn this young heiress from the highest reaches of society into a poster child for their coming revolution," the FB said.

On April 3, 1974, the SLA released a tape with Hearst saying she had joined the group. Days later she was spotted on security surveillance tape wielding an assault weapon during a bank robbery with the group.

On May 17 of that year, the SLA got into a shootout with Los Angeles police when officers surrounded a house where a getaway van during another robbery was discovered. Six SLA members died when the house went up in flames.

Hearst and several other members escaped and traveled the country to elude capture. She was caught on Sept. 18, 1975, in San Francisco and charged with bank robbery and other crimes.

A mugshot of Patty Hearst after her arrest.  (FBI)


She claimed she was brainwashed but was found guilty at trial and sentenced to seven years in prison. Hearst served two years before President Jimmy Carter commuted the sentence.

She was slater pardoned. The last two SLA members to elude capture were arrested in 1999 and 2002.