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The Controversies of Patty Hearst

Updated on December 4, 2013

A Sordid Affair

Patty Hearst a/k/a Tania was kidnapped on February 4, 1974 from her apartment in Berkeley, California. Hearst was 19 years old and living with her 26 year old then boyfriend Steven Weed whom she had plans to marry in the summer of 1974.

This case transfixed the nation with it's twists and turns. To this day, mystery remains around the kidnapping victim and the purpose of the taking of Patty Hearst.

Was she part of the coup? Did she knowingly participate or was she an unwitting victim?

This tale doesn't start on February 4, 1974. This story begins in 1962 with a man named Colston Westbook and the CIA.

Was the Patty Hearst affair the first incident of terrorism on the American public put in place by the American Government and CIA to force a movement toward a total police state through terror?

Players (Nom du Guerre)
Where are they now?
Patty Hearst
SLA - Kidnap Victim 2/4/1974
Lives in Connecticut, NY
Steven Weed
Patty's fiance at time of kidnapping
Real Estate Agent in CA
Donald DeFreeze (Cinque)
Convicted Criminal went to Vacaville - S.L.A. Founder?
Died 5/17/1974
Bernard Keaton
Double for Donald DeFreeze
William Wolfe (Cujo)
S.L.A. Member - Berkeley Student - Teacher at Vacaville
Died in L.A. fire 5/17/1974
Angela Atwood (Gelina)
SLA Member; Trained - CIA Think Tank, Moved to Oakland with Harris' 1972
Died 5/17/1974
Gary Atwood
Husband of Angela
Returned to Indiana Summer 1973
Emily Harris (Yolanda)
SLA Member; Trained - CIA Think Tank, Moved to Oakland 1972
Served 2 Jail Sentences
William Harris (General Teko)
SLA Member; Trained - CIA Think Tank, Moved to Oakland 1972
Served 2 Jail Sentences
Russell Little (Osceola)
SLA Member; 1972 Made Contract with Wolfe, Vacaville
Robyn Steiner
SLA Member; Girlfriend of Russell Little, Fled to England
Feared for safety went into hiding
Nancy Ling Perry (Fahizah)
SLA Member; UC Berkeley Student, trained in chemistry & behavior modification
Died 5/17/1974
Camille Hall (Gabi)
SLA Member; Robbed Hibernia Bank involved with SLA only due to connection with Patricia Soltysik
Died 5/17/1974
Patricia Soltysik (Mizmoon)
SLA Member; UC Berkeley student, Vacaville
Died 5/17/1974
Kathleen Soliah a/k/a Sara Jane Olsen
SLA Member; Captured 1999 / Served Jail Time
Sentenced to Jail
Wendy Yoshimura
SLA Member; Captured with Hearst in 1975
Watercolor artist; refuses to talk about PH
Joseph Remiro (Bo)
SLA Member; Captured and immediately incarcerated in San Quentin
Still in San Quentin
Theo Wheeler
SLA Member; "Escaped from Vacaville" - Killed Marcus Foster
Colston Westbrook
Began Army Career at Travis AFB, involved in Phoenix Program/ Vacaville/Berkeley
Died 8/3/1989
Dr. Marcus Foster
First black superintendent of Oakland public school.
Shot/Murdered 11/6/1973

The 1960's were the years when peace and love and flowers and Frisbee's were the rage. The world was trying to figure out what color it was and how we all measured up on the spectrum. The government more than dallied in psychological experiments with LSD and mind control. Much of this was kept secret and would be revealed over the coming decades.

Colston Westbrook (1937 - 1989) Westbrook admittedly entered the US Army/Air Force and worked at Travis Air Force Base in California. He has quite an impressive resume. Westbrook traveled the world and he spoke and could write in several languages, fluently, including Korean, Japanese, Italian, French, German and English.

Westbrook has ties to Berkeley as well as being the head of the programs with prisoners at Vacaville and strangely to Travis Air Force Base. Westbrook did not like Marcus Foster and he spoke of him to DeFreeze and the other prisoners. One theory is that the whole purpose of Foster's shooting was to put the SLA on the map. The SLA claimed responsibility for his shooting immediately and now everyone in the world knew who of the terrorist group SLA.

Westbrook has denied being part of the CIA or the SLA, however, he admits he was a professor at the Linguistics department of UC Berkeley from 1971 - 1975. He admits he worked at Vacaville but insinuates that part of the group dissented with his and others goals and ideals. Westbrook lists "Dean of Students" at Berkeley as his occupation until his death in 1989.

Emily Harris


White yuppies turn SLA guerillas.

The Symbionese Liberation Army would have been a joke if there were no killings. The SLA was a faction of people that were misled and misguided. There were a handful of members and within 2 years it had dwindled down to practically nothing. The highest number indicated to anyone's guess was up to 25 members and as few as 12.

The interesting part is that with each piece of the puzzle you can see this is tied to Berkeley College.

Russell Little and his then girlfriend, Robyn Steiner, the Atwoods, the Harris's all ended up being drawn together at Berkeley.

Patty Hearst was a student at Berkeley.

William Wolfe was a student at Berkeley.

Allegations that the Harrises and Atwoods were involved in Indiana with police investigations as a mod squad unit were made. Three of them were believed to be Narcs prior to the field trip to Berkeley.

All of these people also ended up at Vacaville working under the guise that they were helping black prisoners. This group of students had numerous visits at this prison with who else? Donald DeFreeze and Theo Wheeler, under the guidance of Colston Westbrook.

Patty Hearst was the grand-daughter of newspaper owner and billionaire William Randolph Hearst. After her kidnapping by he SLA the ransom demanded her father distribute food to the poor. This program failed and ended with riots and food being thrown back at them after it was found to be of very poor quality. Incidentally, the food was distributed by associates of Jim Jones, the Kool-Aid King.

Who better to choose as a kidnapping victim than the daughter of the newspaper magnate? Her picture and kidnapping was made public knowledge instantly. Her family also had the means to pay an outrageous ransom.


Denver International Airport


After her kidnapping Hearst sent a series of recordings to the media. In an early one she would confess to her parents and the world that she was offered two choices. To be released in a safe place so she could return home or she could join and fight with the SLA. She stated that she chose to join. Hearst was also caught on tape robbing a bank. She was ultimately captured in San Francisco with 3 SLA members on September 18, 1975.

The infamous shoot out that occurred and killed members of the SLA was captured on tape. Some say the first shot fired was by the LAPD. Not one person was killed outside of SLA members. Two females were found shot just outside in the back yard while trying to flee. One was shot in the center of her forehead and the other in the back.

Defreeze's body wasn't sent home for days. When his family received his remains there was no head or fingertips. Some speculate fear if his head was available for autopsy evidence of tampering may have been obvious. DeFreeze was sent to Vacaville for psychological evaluation while doing a stint in jail for shooting a police officer.

Was Patty Hearst a victim or a criminal? To this day, there are lingering questions and various opinions.

She contradicted that statement later claiming the two choices offered were to join the SLA or die. The psychiatrist for the prosecution Harry Kozol claimed that she was a spoiled little rich girl who was in search of an outlet for her pent up rage against her parents. Kozol claimed she was asked to draw the apartment in which she was held hostage for 59 days and she did not draw the closet where she was supposedly assaulted, raped and abused.

Hearst did not appear to approve of his opinion and requested he be removed from her case. She said he was abusive toward her but the judge didn't buy it.

Steven Weed was rumored to have been seen meeting up with Jim Jones a few months prior to the Hearst abduction. Curious. Was he involved? His behavior since the kidnapping has always been questionable and controversial. He authored a book after the ordeal was over and Patricia never spoke to him again.

Donald DeFreeze was the head of the band of overzealous, young students that all seem to come together at Vacaville. The word "phoenix" popped up in my research over and over again. I googled "phoenix program" and strangely enough the University of Indiana's probation policy popped up. It's called their "Phoenix Program." Isn't that where the Atwoods and Harrises originally came from? Again it came up as the behavior modification program at a Florida school, the Durango R-9 school district. Again it came up as an independent study program in California as an alternative school for struggling students.

Another well known fact is that a man named Bernard Keaton pretended to be Donald DeFreeze and even moved in with his family after he walked away from Soledad. Conspiracy theorists believe this was intended to be the fall guy in case DeFreeze was picked up by the police. The double would allow DeFreeze to continue the mission.

Coincidentally, after the fire that incinerated Hearst's comrades her next communique included some babble that "out of the ashes of the fire - she knew what she had to do."

Mae Brussel, famous for her radio shows about conspiracies and her compelling theory of the JFK assassination. Brussel investigated the Patty Hearst ordeal and she insinuates that it was part of the Phoenix program.

Brussel wrote a paper in 1974 about the Hearst case. In it, she predicted that we would see a few things that would occur in the future. An airport was to be constructed at Travis Air Force Base in the California desert with extra wide lanes. Lanes large enough to accommodate a 747.

Brussell also predicted that a medical facility would be built to the tune of 160+ million dollars and it would be used for a mental facility and hospital.

Travis Air Force Base


Since 1974

Patty Hearst was fairly quiet about the events that occurred until the release of her book in 1982. In it, she admits being the getaway driver of the car involved in the bank robbery. Hearst says that Emily Harris claimed she shot the victim.

After years of silence this case was stirring again. Kathleen Soliah was captured and found to be living as Sara Jane Olson, mother of three, wife to a doctor in a nice community. Was it public pressure that caused this scab to be reopened? Suddenly, the public wanted people to be held accountable? Most of the people involved were dead or had vanished.

Why did Patty Hearst plead the Fifth Amendment 42 times during her trial if she was merely a victim who had been traumatized? Hearst refused to testify against her "comrades" as well after they were all arrested in September of 1975. When she was arrested along with the Harris' and Yoshimira, she informed the police she was an "urban gorilla."

Curiously, Patty Hearst was sentenced to 35 years in jail but served a little more than 22 months. The Harris's were convicted of Heart's kidnapping and both were released in 1983. Russell Little and Romero pled guilty for killing Marcus Foster.

Is it possible that the CIA did not count on Patty Hearst willingly joining the SLA? I think the big snafu was that Patty did not dust her bottom off and run home. She converted and this wasn't part of the plan. I believe the group split and a few members went rogue. The CIA didn't count on that either. The bank robbery was an example of the group going too far and out of the scope of their intended purpose.

Travis Air Force Base:
Travis AFB (SUU), Fairfield, CA 94585, USA

get directions

Vacaville Prison:
California State Prison: Jason Rohrer MD, 2100 Peabody Rd, Vacaville, CA 95687, USA

get directions

Travis Air Force Base Hospital:
Travis AFB (SUU), Fairfield, CA 94585, USA

get directions

Mae Brussel Predictions

The Conspiracy Queen, one of the original 11 or 12 people that openly researched the Kennedy assassination. There were a couple of investigators that refused to be named. Brussel was well a well respected author, researcher and radio show host. While some of her theories were disregarded, some were the most in depth, rational explanations provided for government conspiracies, to date. She, in fact, taught a college class in conspiracies.

Mae Brussel's theories are hard to ignore. She died of a fast acting cancer on October 3, 1988.

Curiously, the Travis Air Force Base Hospital on The Hill was moved to it's current location on October 21, 1988. It's a fabulous hospital with hyperbaric chambers and such fantastic treatment facilities and size.

Travis Air Force Base resides in a very close proximity, uncomfortably so, to Vacaville.

Brussel also predicted the future construction of two airports that would have over sized runway lanes. She said they would be large enough to accommodate 747's. What do you know? I discovered that there has been an airport built that boasts of extra wide lanes. Nut Tree. It was closed from 1996 - 2006 and reopened after it was expanded. It happens to be, also, in Vacaville. Interesting.

The Denver International Airport was completed in 1995. Is it the new Auschwitz?

Hartsfield-Jackson was opened in 1980 and added a super large runway in 1984. It's been the busiest airport since 1988.

What is the reason behind the "coffins" that are being purchased and stored in Atlanta?

Is our government capable of inducing enough mistrust and upheaval, secretly upon the American population in an effort to use military control or police to control the masses? Mass genocide to control over population? I shudder to think.

Denver International Airport


"They called themselves an army. They were planning on recruiting more armies. They were planning on splitting up and forming smaller cells and going into different areas and recruiting more members and growing until they started a full scale war in this country." ~Patty Hearst


Submit a Comment
  • RealHousewife profile imageAUTHOR

    Kelly Umphenour 

    6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi Michelle! Thanks so much...yeah I don't know if Stokholm is it or not...I started out actually researching for a hub about SS - then my attention was grabbed by this case and it turned into a hub of it's own! Thank you for sharing too!!

  • midget38 profile image

    Michelle Liew 

    6 years ago from Singapore

    Kelly, very, very interesting. It sounds like a classic case of Stockholm's Syndrome....could be that Patty chose to join the SLA after being too attached to her kidnappers. Well researched, voted up and across, and shared.

  • RealHousewife profile imageAUTHOR

    Kelly Umphenour 

    6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Thank you so much Martie! I thought maybe since so much time passed - the truth might come out!

  • MartieCoetser profile image

    Martie Coetser 

    6 years ago from South Africa

    I swear I've left a comment in here.... Please check your spam folder, Realhousewife - the robot-sorters of comments in HP have no brains :)

    Again: This is an excellent, well-researched article about Patty Hearst and her kidnappers.

  • RealHousewife profile imageAUTHOR

    Kelly Umphenour 

    6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi Sharon! Wasn't this a real mystery? So strange the ways things worked out! I was trying to see if I could pin everyone down and where they are know how after so many years sometimes people learn the truth - I'd love to know the truth behind this affair:).

  • Sharyn's Slant profile image

    Sharon Smith 

    6 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

    Wow, big ole flash backs. I remember this case well. It definitely was a big deal at the time. Your research is so interesting and I really appreciated the break down of who is still around and where they are.

  • RealHousewife profile imageAUTHOR

    Kelly Umphenour 

    6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi David Warren! Thank you! I was born in 1967 so I do remember the media and as I got older I kind of followed the coverage. I was always curious about what really happened. There's opinions, conspiracy theorists and the truth! I'd love to know the truth!

  • RealHousewife profile imageAUTHOR

    Kelly Umphenour 

    6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi Mhatter! Wasn't this something? And almost 40 years later - we still aren't sure!

  • David Warren profile image

    David Warren 

    6 years ago from Nevada and Puerto Vallarta

    Great hub! Actually surprised you are old enough to know much about this case. As I grew up in Western New York there was A LOT of media coverage in Buffalo due to connections. Anyway, great idea and brought back many memories from my younger years. Voted AWESOME!

  • Mhatter99 profile image

    Martin Kloess 

    6 years ago from San Francisco

    Thank you for this. Great job! It was real TV drama while it was going on.

  • RealHousewife profile imageAUTHOR

    Kelly Umphenour 

    6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi Sherry! I watched all of those interviews on Larry King. I feel as if Patty is still a little mixed up about her own culpability. She seems confident, I afraid and resolved however - some questions make her nervous.

    And what about this? I looked into Stockholm Symdrome which she claims to have been afflicted with? Well every other case of Stockholm - the victim remains emotionally almost complicit to their abuser for a long time! It takes a while to sort of deprogram or convince them of their victimization. Well Patty flipped on her "comrades" within a couple of weeks. Which seems more like poor little rich girl realized after a few weeks what a REAL life in jail might be like.

    I think Patty was a victim and shouldn't have been held accountable however - I feel she converted when her parents didn't liquify their assets to get her back. Party's remarks sound more to me like those of a spoiled child.

    I read one account where she complains about probation and receiving cards that asked if she had a job...she responded "no" and said they also always big her asking why not and she responds, "because I don't have to" or "because I don't want to" a 2 year old? Hm! I don't know! She doesn't seem like a victim to me!

  • RealHousewife profile imageAUTHOR

    Kelly Umphenour 

    6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi Drbj! Isn't that a big mystery?! I love conspiracy theories and this one just kept getting stranger. I could have included enough info for another 1000 words but I had to stop somewhere:)

    There have been a few weird murders of the scientists and doctors in connection with this...Pat Price, and Dr. Hacker come to mind...James Kilgore was never caught either but right? I love the thought that older cases can sometimes be solved because people begin to talk!

    Thanks so much for your awesome commentary as always!

  • RealHousewife profile imageAUTHOR

    Kelly Umphenour 

    6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi Susan! I knew you lived in CA but that was a historical time to be there for this reason. So creepy all of it...and while I looked at Satellite maps on GPS I found some of the strangest stuff! EW!

  • RealHousewife profile imageAUTHOR

    Kelly Umphenour 

    6 years ago from St. Louis, MO


  • Sherry Hewins profile image

    Sherry Hewins 

    6 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

    I saw an interview with Patty Hearst a few years ago. Basically, she said that at first she was a prisoner, forced to pretend to be one of the group. Then once law enforcement and the world saw her as criminal, and it became obvious to her that her life would not have been spared had she been in the burning house, she began to perceive herself as one of them. It must have been a shocking experience for a sheltered rich girl. I could see how that might happen.

  • drbj profile image

    drbj and sherry 

    6 years ago from south Florida

    I remember all the furor over the Patty Hearst kidnapping and the questions about was she a victim or a willing conspirator. Those questions have never been fully answered but you did a remarkable job, Kelly, uncovering all this information and the various theories to date. Doubt that we'll ever know the real truth. But it IS all very mysterious and VERY scary! Voted Up for impressive research and well-written presentation.

  • Just Ask Susan profile image

    Susan Zutautas 

    6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    I remember all of this as it was going on when I lived in California. You sure did an excellent job covering everything!

  • RealHousewife profile imageAUTHOR

    Kelly Umphenour 

    6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi Lela - I love conspiracy theories! I saw a news clipping that reminded me of this so I decided to see so all was still around and I got so absorbed in the facts and non facts again:). I was kind of creeped out! Thank you!

  • RealHousewife profile imageAUTHOR

    Kelly Umphenour 

    6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    HiBill - thank you so much! It was fascinating then and still is now!

  • Austinstar profile image


    6 years ago from Somewhere near the heart of Texas

    I'm surprised that you had such an interest in this case. Most of the world has totally forgotten about the Patty Hearst kidnapping. I thought the whole thing was totally weird, but I was learning to survive in a world of my own at the time and didn't really follow the story. Thanks for this interesting information!

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 

    6 years ago from Olympia, WA

    I remember this quite well; I was twenty-five when this happened and it was in the news for quite some time. Good job, Kelly!


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