16 Crazy Facts About The Kidnapping of Patty Hearst

Patty as a student before her kidnapping. CBS News.

15. Patty Hearst was kidnapped on February 4, 1974

Patty lived with her fiancé, Steven Weed, a Berkeley professor. When she was in her sophomore year of studying art history, only 19 years old, someone knocked on her door asking to use the phone. They bound and gagged Patty and beat her fiancé. Someone fired shots from an automatic rifle, and witnesses said that they heard Patty screaming for her abductors to leave her alone. Weed was knocked unconscious during the ordeal, and Patty disappeared. The initial terror of her kidnapping, combined with later torture and brainwashing techniques that could have come straight from a CIA Cold War handbook, likely contributed to the string of events that were soon to happen.

Patty’s kidnapping immediately made national headlines, not surprising seeing as her family owned the country’s major newspapers. What was so startling was that her grandfather had made his name in “yellow journalism,” a precursor to today’s tabloids that prided itself on sensationalism and “people interest” stories rather than current events. The traumatic event of Patty’s kidnapping could have easily looked like a sensationalized story, but it was all too real. The granddaughter of the man who inspired Citizen Kane had been stuffed into the trunk of a car and taken to an unknown location.