Every so often, a crime occurs that shocks the nation. In the 1970s, that crime, or rather, a string of crimes, revolved around Patty Hearst, a California princess who was born into luxury but was kidnapped by a terrorist organization when she was only 19 years old. She went on a national crime spree that included at least three armed bank robberies and one parking lot shootout. She went from being the pity of the nation to the top of the most wanted list.
At a time when conditions such as Stockholm syndrome and brainwashing weren’t recognized, Patty was considered a common criminal and wholly liable for her acts. Her trial would have been considered a farce by today’s standards, and she was convicted for all of the crimes that she had participated in while under the duress of having been kidnapped. She was finally exonerated and became an activist for people living with AIDS. Today, her name is almost synonymous with forensic psychology and Stockholm syndrome, a condition in which kidnapping victims sympathize with their captors.
16. Patty Hearst was the daughter of William Randolph Hearst
Patty Hearst was born into one of the most influential families in the United States of America. Her great-grandmother was Phoebe Hearst, a renowned philanthropist. Her grandfather was William Randolph Hearst, the newspaper magnate who built Hearst Communications, which would become the largest newspaper and movie-reel business in the world. He owned upwards of 30 major newspapers, including The New York Times and The San Francisco Examiner. Patty’s father, Randolph Hearst, became chairman of the company, which came to be known as the Hearst Board. He managed many of the newspapers that his father had acquired until he retired in 1996.
The Hearst family enjoyed prestige both financially and politically. Patty was born into a life of privilege and grew up in a prestigious area of San Francisco. She attended private schools and attended Menlo College before transferring to The University of California, Berkeley. As her father was one of many heirs to the Hearst fortune, her parents didn’t see any need to take any particular security precautions with any of their children. Though a wealthy heiress, Patty enjoyed a relatively normal life as a typical college student in California. All of that changed when she was kidnapped, and her story would make national headlines for years to come.