One of the most profiled cases of the last century was that of heiress Patricia Campbell Hearst.
The Radical Story of Patty Hearst on CNN examines new evidence, interviews and archival footage to shed a whole new light on this strange 20th-century criminal case.
Executive producer and CNN journalist Jeffrey Toobin asks: “Is she America’s most famous crime victim? Or is she the most famous rich turncoat in American History?”
A privileged woman becomes a gun-toting perp? On February 4, 1974, 19-year-old “Patty” Hearst, in line to inherit one of the greatest newspaper fortunes in America, was kidnapped from her home in Berkeley, California, by the little-known Symbionese Liberation Army.
Though Hearst declined to talk to CNN, the producers have meticulously recreated the timeline and events as they happened.
She claimed she was coerced and abused by her kidnappers, and only carried out a string of serious crimes to avoid being killed.
The FBI conducted a bumbling investigation, before six members of the SLA were eventually killed in a shootout in Los Angeles. Hearst was on the lam for a full year and a half from the authorities.
It was the famous O.J. Simpson attorney, F. Lee Bailey, who took her on as a client and Hearst was subsequently convicted for the armed bank robbery.
Over 40 years later, newly discovered evidence, archival footage, cinematic recreations and exclusive firsthand accounts shed light on one of the biggest and most bizarre stories in modern American history.
Hearst has always maintained that she was made to do what she did, but her prosecutors have viewed things differently.
When Hearst applied for a presidential pardon in 2000, the US attorney in San Francisco, Robert S. Mueller, objected, saying: “I strongly oppose the pardon application filed by Patricia Hearst…the attitude of Hearst has always been that she is a person above the law and that, based on her wealth and social position, she is not accountable for her conduct, despite the jury’s verdict.”
On January 20, 2001, she was granted a full pardon by then president Bill Clinton — his last day in office.
In our exclusive clip, Hearst’s former fiancé Steven Weed, who she had moved in with near Berkeley when she was 18, explains the night she was abducted in what he believed was a “robbery gone wrong”.
As well as Weed, The Radical Story of Patty Hearst boasts an interview with Bill Harris, the man who abducted Hearst from her apartment in 1974.
The series is a timeline of Hearst’s monied upbringing, dramatic kidnapping, and bizarre transformation into what we see as a machine-gun wielding terrorist. Then of her arrest, trial and folding back into the arms of the upper-class society. Watch our exclusive clip below:
The Radical Story of Patty Hearst airs three consecutive weeks with two back-to-back episodes airing Sundays at 9pm and 10pm ET/PT on CNN. It will also stream live for subscribers tonight via CNNgo (at CNN.com/go and via CNNgo apps for Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire, Samsung Smart TV and Android TV) and on the CNN mobile apps for iOS and Android. The day after the broadcast it will be available on demand via cable/satellite systems, CNNgo platforms and CNN mobile apps.
- A Wilderness of Error exclusive: Marc Smerling talks murder, Morris and Morally Indefensible podcast - 23rd September 2020
- Exclusive interview with Colin Quinn on Overstated, Trainwreck and follow up to Tough Crowd - 17th September 2020
- Undercover Billionaire: Return To Erie exclusive Glenn Stearns talks new special, COVID, and success - 15th August 2020