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Radical Story of Patty Hearst. Aired 9-11p ET
Aired February 11, 2018 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANA CABRERA, ANCHOR, CNN: Stay tuned. I am Ana Cabrera in New York. Thank you for spending part of your Sunday with me, the radical story of Patty Hearst starts right now.
LARRY KING, AMERICAN TV AND RADIO SHOW HOST: Our first guest, Patty Hearst. The victim of the most bizarre kidnapping story in American history. Carried, kicking and screaming from her California apartment, shoved into the trunk of a car and sped off into the night.
Four months later, she stunned the world with the announcement she joined her captors. She became a gun-toting revolutionary and was branded a common criminal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Less than 30 minutes ago, we arrested Patty Hearst at 62...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Four counts of robbery, five accounts assault with a deadly weapon with intent to murder.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Authorities said they found ten automatic weapons in the Hearst apartment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How in the world does the granddaughter of William Randolph Hearst become a terrorist?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Assuming this liberation army kidnapped someone from American nobility.
PATRICIA CAMPBELL HEARST, GRANDDAUGHTER OF AMERICAN PUBLISHING MAGNATE WILLIAM RANDOLPH HEARST: It's a story that is violent. I was kidnapped by terrorists, brutalized by them, threat -- constantly that you'll be killed if you don't cooperate, it finally breaks you down.
WILLIAM TAYLOR HARRIS, MEMBER OF THE SYMBIONESE LIBERATION ARMY: My name is William Taylor Harris. Ask me a question.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you kidnap Patty Hearst?
HARRIS: I personally took Patty Hearst out of her apartment and put her into a getaway car. Reality isn't always on the surface, you know, sometimes you have to look a little deeper to see what's real.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is she America's most famous crime victim or is she the most famous rich turncoat in American history?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The granddaughter of William Randolph Hearst was abducted by two men and a girl in a bizarre kidnapping.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No ransom note. No phone calls. No word. Nothing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The SLA is the People's Army and we fight in their interest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The FBI said the girl in a wig with the automatic rifle was Patricia Hearst. A rich college girl turned armed terrorist in a matter of weeks. Southern California's largest manhunt continues.
HEARST: For someone my age, I have been through an awful lot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't know where she is.
HEARST: Mom, dad, I'm okay.
STEVEN WEED, FORMER FIANCE OF PATRICIA HEARST: Looking at it 45 years later, however long it's been, it wasn't a simple story. When somebody you love close to you is kidnapped, it's a particular kind of torture that it's very hard to understand unless it's actually happened to you.
She did change and it wasn't too many months before I realized that we weren't getting back together. Everything was crushed. It was gone. It was done, but I am just trying to -- you know, if this is a documentary and you want the history, you want to know what it was like before the kidnapping, that's my answer.
1972, I went to Crystal Springs teaching Math and Geometry. It was a small (kind) of girl school and she came to some guitar classes I was giving. I don't think she really is interested in learning the guitar. She just wanted to hang out with one of the older teachers.
That was the first introduction, and then she would find ways to talk to me and then, finally one day, she showed up at my house for some math tutoring and that became a constant thing eventually.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, AUTHOR: Patty and Steve have always said that their romance began when Steve was 23 and she was 16. By my accounting, it may well have been she was 15, but as both Steve and Patty have subsequently said, it was Patty who targeted Steve for romance first, not the other way around.
WEED: I never would have initiated something like that, but I was receptive over time. She knew what she wanted and she just went for it and she was kind of fearless, actually.
TOOBIN: Patty was just 18 years old when she decided to move in with Steve Weed and they got a nice little apartment, very near the campus of Berkley.
WEED: Her father was pretty easy going about it. "Are you going to shack up with my daughter? You know, you just treat her nicely." Her mother was very unhappy about it, but she didn't show it. Her breeding was to be polite and she was and I appreciated it.
TOOBIN: In 1970s, Randy Hearst's title was publisher of the San Francisco Examiner.
CAROL POGASH, JOURNALIST OF SF EXAMINER, REPOTER, 1974: He would come into the office although not be there necessarily every day. He would be working at the paper and then he'd say, "Well, tomorrow, I'm going to go duck hunting." Just reminding us inadvertently that he led a very different kind of life than the rest of us did.
BRYAN BURROUGH, AUTHOR: The name Hearst really meant something in America. It was really synonymous with big corporations, big media and outstanding over the top wealth, to the extent thatCalifornia held up any family as royalty, you'd have to say it was the Hearsts, and you know, that made Patty in her own small little way a princess.
TOOBIN: Patty's grandfather, William Randolph Hearst owned dozens of newspapers, and he didn't just own them, he used them for political and economic power.
DAVID FECHHEIMER, PRIVATE DETECTIVE: Hearst was a larger than life figure. He was more than a businessman. He was a celebrity before there were celebrities/
TOOBIN: Orson Wells wrote and directed "Citizen Kane" as the life story of William Randolph Hearst.
POGASH: Randy and Catherine Hearst lived with their five daughters in Hillsborough, a very wealthy, beautiful community on the peninsula.
TOOBIN: Randy treated Patty of his five daughters almost like a son because she was tough. He channeled it on the outings that they went on together. They went hiking. They fishing. They went hunting and he taught her to shoot.
WEED: Her relationship with her mother was a lot more problematic. Catherine was -- she was a southern bell. She was a woman that had come from Georgia, swept off her feet by the cosmopolitan Hearst heir. I wouldn't call her snobby, but she had an upper class kind of attitude.
TOOBIN: Her mother wanted Patty to do well in school, come out in society, go to college, but basically lead her mother's life. She was in rebellion against some of the strictures that her mother in particular imposed on her. Like convent schools. She loathed convent schools and she got thrown out of several of them.
WEED: She wanted the independence. She wanted to -- she really wanted to become an adult. It's really what it was.
HEARST: I was just a college student at Berkley and I was living with my boyfriend. You know, I was just like a dumb 19-year-old. That's about it.
WEED: We lived in a two-story townhouse. There was still kind of a dicey straight scene in Berkley, petty crime. It was fairly rampant. I think three days before the kidnapping, a couple showed up at night looking a little bit sketchy asking about rentals. They didn't seem right.
In retrospect, obviously, they were checking us out. But at the time, we just dismissed it as another you know, random Berkley kind of thing, but we weren't at all paranoid.
We just finished having dinner, watching a TV show and getting ready to study and there was a knock on the door. There was a woman at the front door.
HEARST: There was a person standing there and I had moved into the kitchen, and what I could hear was that they thought they'd hit a car downstairs, they said, could they use the phone and with that, people just burst into the apartment.
WEED: It couldn't have been three or four seconds before two men pushed through the front door. They pushed me back shouting, "Get your face on the floor. Get your face on the floor." Your mind is trying to grip of what is this? What's going on? Started kicking me and hitting me.
HEARST: It was just a gun in my face, and I was pushed down to the kitchen floor. I was tied up and gagged and blindfolded, and I bit down on the gag because I just assumed that they were going to burglarize the apartment.
WEED: At about that point, they started demanding where's the safe? Where's the money? I was trying to figure out what was happening, and the natural conclusion is that, it was a robbery. I could hear Patty whimpering in the other room. I said, "We don't have a safe. Take anything you want. Just leave us alone."
Every time I'd look up, they'd kick me in the face. I do remember the woman saying, "They've seen our faces. We have to get rid of them." We had this one-dollar bottle of Romance wine and they grabbed one and started hitting me on the head with it really hard, and even if he's not trying to kill me, he is going to. He was going to bash my head. It was like they were going to kill us.
By this time, my eyes were full of blood. I couldn't see. I lurched up and instead of running out the front door, I just went running around the living room yelling at the top of my lungs, knocking over furniture, knocking over plants, just banging into things just hoping the distraction would drive them away.
I opened the door, went out of the back patio and jumped over the fence and started banging on the neighbor's door. Even in my state of delirium, I could tell they that weren't going to answer the door. I realized I was just terrifying somebody inside and I assumed it was a robbery gone bad. I didn't know at the time of course. I've learned a lot later that it was the SLA. BURROUGH: Patty Hearst was kidnapped by a small, violent
revolutionary group called the SLA. To understand the SLA, you have to understand Berkley in 1973, and to understand Berkeley in 1973, have to understand the '60s and what San Francisco became.
If you were radical in the '60s and early '70s, if you wanted to change the world, you were at least giving a passing thought to go into Berkeley.
It had become a huge melting pot for young people who wanted t a brighter more beautiful future.
POGASH: There was so much turmoil in those years. There had been the Civil Rights Movement and then the anti-war movement and young people were rebellious. They were protesting and they had a sense of power that we can make a difference, that we could end the war in Vietnam.
TOOBIN: By the '70s, there was anger and an incredible amount of violence that we can hardly imagine today.
HARRIS: It was as close to a revolutionary situation in some people's minds as we had ever had. Once you get beat up a few times by the cops, when you protest and you have to make a choice between turning the other cheek or do something more extraordinary in reaction to the violence of the state. They were cueing us on college campuses.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nixon is definitely looking at students as the enemies in the country right now. We have to go underground. I think it looks pretty bad for us.
JANJA LALICH, PROFESSOR EMERITUS OF SOCIOLOGY: A lot of these groups got even more radical because they believed that there should be a revolution, that it will be an armed revolution that needs to overthrow the government; and so a lot of these groups, they studied basic Marx. They studied Lenin. They studied communism in underground cells and they truly believe that the only way that you could change a society for the better was to have this armed revolution.
HARRIS: We felt that we had to kind of ramp up the response. Shit was in the fan and everywhere. I didn't come to this conclusion to do what I was doing in two weeks or a month. It was a huge evolution.
I graduated high school in 1963. The Civil Rights Movement was ramping up, but I had no political consciousness of any kind. Vietnam totally flipped my perspective.
My first day in Vietnam, I had to witness a torture of a Vietnamese prisoner. When you get into that kind of level of conflict, it's really hard to adjust coming back home.
Really Vietnam was the precursor to the SLA.
I met Emily late January of 1968. She was a sorority girl. You know, Emily evolved during our relationship from a person that didn't have any politics to somebody that felt strongly about her politics, and as she got more involved in women's issues, she became more and more radicalized from her own self-interests.
Emily and I got married in November of 1971. We moved to the Bay Area to get involved in political work. I looked up an old friend from college that I found out was getting more deeply involved in things.
I met Angela Atwood in the Theater Department in Indiana University. She always had ideas influenced by modern feminist thinking and she went through dramatic changes during the same period. The three of us were interested in getting more deeply involved in things.
We didn't really know anybody to hook up with until I met Joe Remiro. Joe invited me to a community meeting. It was at this meeting that I met another future comrade, Russ Little.
WEED: Patty and I, we just had a really good life together. She was fun loving and she was easy to get along with. We had great times together. We would travel not just to Simpson, and then would tour with the other Hearst places, but we went on road trips together, and Patty was really getting anchored in her art history, and everything seemed like it was heading in the right direction.
Patty and I decided we should get married. We announced our engagement to the Examiner, of course, and we were looking forward to it.
TOOBIN: While Steve Weed and Patty Hearst are going about their everyday business in Berkeley, the SLA is starting to form in a very different place, in a prison.
One of the key aspects of the political environment in the Bay Area was the Prison Movement. For a lot of radicals in the '70s, prison symbolized everything that was wrong with American society -- it's racism. Its violence. Its suppression of poor people and the radicals saw the prisons as a place where they could foment revolutionary change.
HARRIS: At that time, Joe and Russ were doing work inside the California Prison System. It is inherently political if the process of the system hammers people of color more than white people. This is the beginning of things like mass incarceration. This is how we deal with poverty. We lock it up.
TOOBIN: Since Berkeley was the epicenter of the protest movement, it was a place where radicals wanted to try to spread the gospel to prisons, and the nearest prison was Vacaville.
And so, you had this pipeline where students and ex-students at Berkeley would go to Vacaville, sort of as teachers, but really as political organizers. One prisoner really stood out as the leader of the political group in the prison and that was Donald Defreeze.
Donald Defreeze was basically a professional criminal. He had been in and out of prison his whole life, but what landed him there for the last time was when he beat up a prostitute, stole a check from her and tried to cash it and he got caught. Willie Wolfe was an upper middle-class kid, a physician's son from New
Milford, Connecticut who went to Berkeley to try to be an archaeologist, but in short order, he became radicalized; and he became part of this group that spent its time going to Vacaville prison and he became b friends with Donald Defreeze, Joe Remiro and Russ Little.
Defreeze had a plan.
HARRIS: Back then all the jobs in the prison were done by a convict. Defreeze knew enough from talking to other prisoners that the man in the boilers is a job outside the fence, and the first time they sent him to his job, he stayed there for a couple hours and he was gone. I am not certain who picked him up.
I always thought it was Willie. When defreeze escaped, that was the beginning of the SLA.
TOOBIN: Donald Defreeze goes to the only place he knows that he's likely to get a warm welcome and that's Berkeley. He hooks up on the outside with some of the student who had been visiting him on the inside and that includes Joe Remiro, Willie Wolfe, Russ Little and in their social circle, are Nancy Ling Perry and Mizmoon Soltysik. Mizmoon and Nancy wind up moving in with Donald Defreeze. They start coming up with these ideas about revolutionary change.
The three of them become the nucleus of the Symbionese Liberation Army.
POGASH: The Symbionese Liberation Army committed a horrendous crime before kidnapping Patty Hearst. That incident gets lost when we talk about the Patty Hearst kidnap.
During the fall of 1973, Donald Defreeze and a fugitive, so he can't be out and about. So, he sits in the apartment and he stews.
BURROUGH: And then one night on TV, Dfreeze sees a piece on the Oakland Superintendent of Schools.
MARCUS AURELIUS FOSTER, SCHOOL EDUCATOR: The schools cannot do the job of education in the big cities alone.
TOOBIN: Marcus Foster became a controversial figure partially because he was trying to have a police presence in the schools and establish a kind of ID system for the students. The concern was that the police would be in the schools not to protect the students, but to control them.
Defreeze became convinced that Foster had to be killed.
POGASH: One night, Marcus Foster was walking from the school board building to his car.
TOOBIN: They waited for the end of a school board meeting and as he walked into the parking lot, they shot Marcus Foster dead at point- blank range. The theory was that Defreeze, Nancy Ling Perry and Mizmoon Soltysik
were the shooters and Joe Remiro and Russ Little were the lookouts. Remiro and Little had guns with them, but were not involved in the shooting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the communicated newspapers, the SLA took credit for Foster's murder. It was the first time any one had ever heard of the group.
POGASH: They were proud of what they had done and they put out a press release or a statement saying they had done this.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The SLA was now indiscriminately issuing death warrants for Foster, Blackburn or anyone else. Such an attack was the only means left open to us to demand that the people's wishes be met and that all such dangerous genocide programs be stopped.
HARRIS: I was surprised by it. I didn't even know they even existed, so I was thinking, "Oh, my goodness. I mean, hell, I thought the panthers did it."
POGASH: The bullets that were used to kill him were cyanide tipped. They knew how to draw attention to themselves.
JASON MOULTON, RETIRED FBI AGENT: I have never heard of anybody putting cyanide into a lethal round. I have never heard of that, so it was a mark of the SLA.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My reaction was, "Who the hell are these guys?" But we better find out who they are and what they are about.
WEED: Patty and I had no interest in politics. Politics was not part of our life. It was not part of Patty's life in any respect whatsoever and I am emphasizing that because a lot has been said that paints her as somebody who was already picking up politics. It's not true. There was even a theory that floated later very seriously by a lot of people that she had been in in her own kidnapping. It's crazy.
Very much in the middle of a (counterculture), but it just did not affect us one way or another. Everybody had heard of the SLA because of the assassination of Marcus Foster. It was all in the news. We heard about it, but we didn't know anything about the people that were in the SLA.
TOOBIN: Donald Defreeze did have a dramatic sense about him. He was the one who came up with the name of the Symbionese Liberation Army. Symbionese which was based on symbiosis between students and prisoners.
Defreeze, too, came up with the logo of the seven-headed cobra and the seven values of each head of the cobra were the same values that underline the African holiday of Kwanzaa.
It would certainly be a mistake to think that the Symbionese Liberation Army had some sort of clear agenda for change. They believed if you engage in small scale, but intense violent struggle that would set off a larger revolution. How it would work, what they would do very was unclear.
The SLA in killing Marcus Foster established that they were completely isolated even from possible allies in the then counterculture, but then they get three new recruits.
HARRIS: We were approached and asked if we wanted to meet the people who carried out the Foster assassination. Emily and I and Angela were taken to a location where hoods were put over our head and we were led into a van and we were transported up to a place we didn't know where we were. We had no idea.
Emily and Angela and I were just trying to understand what was going on and listening to what they had to say. Because of the nature of the Foster assassination, I was prepared to possibly not be impressed.
Joe and Russ were not happy with that particular operation. I think, they were troubled by it enough to talk to Emily and me and Angela about hooking up with them and separating off into a separate cell. That was my intention always.
The combination of impatience, despair, the real malaise of my own existence, you know, and the ineffectualness of the left was what caused me to make this decision.
Right about the beginning of January of 1974, when we finally come to that decision, January 10th, 1974 literally changed my whole life and all of my plans.
Joe and Russ were driving in their van back to the safe house. They were running errands, picking up guns that had been altered. They went to a printing unit and picked up a stack of drawings of the Symbionese cobra. The leaflets were propaganda presenting what the program with the SLA was in hopes of recruiting comrades.
I don't even think they noticed the cop and all of a sudden, he pulls them over out of the blue.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Check the cross directory for a Remiro -- R-E-M-I- R-O Joseph.
HARRIS: Instead of coming back to the driver's side, he goes to the passenger's side and tells Joe to get out of the van. They are both armed and they have illegal guns and some leaflets that connect them to something much more serious.
They ended up in a shootout at close quarters that had both of them so freaked out that they missed each other.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shots fire, 11-99. Been fired upon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The van is stopped. I got a suspect on foot in the area still.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: we have one suspect and we have the car.
HARRIS: The leaflets, however, were a big, big problem. That connects them to the Foster assassination.
STUART HANLON, FORMER CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Joe was arrested and he had a Walther PPK that was one of the murder weapons that he had let one of the woman use to shoot Foster.
HARRIS: They were charged with being the actual shooters of Marcus Foster and they were not, and I realized that very soon it would be determined that they were associated with us and so in reality, what we're going to have to do is we're going to have to disappear.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two men, Joseph Remiro and Russell Little were arrested for Foster's murder. They refused to talk about their membership in the Symbionese Liberation Army.
HARRIS: Joe and Russ were arrested a few blocks away from the safe house. There were so many cops in the area trying to figure out what was going on. Defreeze, Nancy and Mizmoon had to abandon the safe house.
They had things that were stored in this house and it had been a safe house -- I am not even sure for how long time, but a long time. It was boxes and boxes of stuff.
After they soaked the house in about 20 gallons of gasoline, they attempted to torch the house. Unfortunately, someone lowered the garage door and all the windows were closed because it was winter time, but when they closed the garage door, it cut off the oxygen to the fire and it immediately went out and left everything in perfect condition almost for the Fed's and the police to go through.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The house in which they lived in a quiet San Francisco suburb, police found weapons, revolutionary literature and material linking them to the SLA.
HARRIS: My original decision was to be with some people federated with the SLA. Okay, there's a distinction in my mind. And 10 days later, Joe and Russ are arrested and that throws everything out the window.
The circumstances had made our choice for us. We were going underground immediately.
TOOBIN: At this point the SLA consisted of Bill Harris, Emily Harris and Angela Atwood, Donald Defreeze, Willie Wolfe, Nancy Ling Perry and Mizmoon Soltyzik, and she had a lover named Camilla Hall and she also joined the group.
When the police start going through the conquered house, they start to find the SLA's list and on one of the lists is possible kidnap victims, and there is a young college student named Patricia Hearst because they had read her engagement announcement in the San Francisco Examiner.
The police never warned anyone on that list.
HARRIS: During the months and months before we were ever introduced to the members of the SLA, they had been acquiring intelligence on potential local targets, including maybe a couple of news articles announcing Patricia's betrothal to Steven Weed. Articles didn't say where she lived, but they gave enough information to easily find it out.
The decision to kidnap Patricia Hearst was the direct result of Joe and Russ's arrest. We had to do it as a matter of principle, possibly worked toward an exchange. It also was a result of our general politics and who we targeted in our minds as being enemies of the people.
We had already determined that Hearst was a particular easy target and that the propaganda that could be generated from it was perfect.
TOOBIN: Bill and Emily and Angela came out of the theater program at Indiana University and this was a time when theater had a very political component. It was known as gorilla theater, and they believed in using theater, in using propaganda as a way of exposing the contradictions in modern society and recruiting people to their cause.
One idea that Bill and the others start to discuss is instead of killing people, why don't we kidnap someone. Why don't we use someone as a living pawn to symbolize the nature of our revolutionary activity.
HARRIS: Emily and I and Angela's influence was to do things that were more inspiring, that weren't as scary. We had to do things that not only inspired people because they were it radical and forceful, but they had to be relevant.
Patricia Hearst was a symbolic target. She was an heiress. Her family was in control of a media empire that we viewed as an arm of propaganda for the United States government.
She was more of an innocent, if there ever was one, which we're trying to explain is the symbolic connection to Joe and Russ. She's innocent. They are innocent. We're going to treat her like you're supposed to treat them.
It didn't take us long to do the surveillance. She was in an ideal location. There was no security. Her front door was right there, handy-dandy and her apartment was blocked from the street. So, there wasn't going to be a lot of easy sidelines for people to see what was going on or even hear.
I think it was a weeknight that we chose. Everybody in the group was involved in the operation. Willie is driving and Mizmoon is the passenger in the VW. Emily's car is parked about three spaces down the street. Camilla was driving the getaway car and Defreeze, me and angela had to handle everything that went on inside the house. Everybody is armed. Nobody saw us going up there.
I kind of recall being on the right of the door and Defreeze was on the left. Defreeze and I bracketed the door where they couldn't see us. We knocked on the door and Angela alluded to an accident and asked to use the phone. Defreeze grabs Weed and put him on the ground.
Angela pounced on Patricia and started to secure her with a clothesline-type rope. And so I am basically standing there with my machine gun now and plain view making sure nobody came back in or out. Defreeze had some belief that they are so rich, they must have a safe. Defreeze is demanding to know where the safe is, you know, and of course they're flummoxed. They don't have a safe, you know.