Where is Patty Hearst? Could she be in our midst, unnoticed, wearing one of the disguises shown on these pages? When last sighted seven months ago, she and two Symbionese Liberation Army terrorists, Bill and Emily Harris, were fleeing Los Angeles after the fiery shootout with police that left six other SLA members dead. Since then there has been no trace of her. Even though her face is known to millions of Americans mesmerized by her bizarre kidnapping and even stranger conversion to terrorism, her whereabouts remain the year’s most tantalizing mystery.
Three days after the shootout, Patty was seen in a short, dark, Afro-style wig, as in the photograph, top left. As the other pictures illustrate, that is only one of the many ways she could dramatically alter her appearance. So far, rumors have placed her—or people looking like her—in Cleveland, Guatemala and the Middle East.
Every false hint of her reappearance causes further anguish for Patty’s family, which has lived under excruciating tension for nearly a year. Catherine Hearst, Patty’s mother, is said to be shattered by the experience—as her voice indicated in a pre-Christmas appeal to her daughter to come home. Mrs. Hearst has all but stopped attending the monthly meetings of the Board of Regents of the University of California. One of Patty’s four sisters has gone away to school under an assumed name. Another is living in Europe with her husband. Patty’s father, Randolph A. Hearst, has plunged himself into work on his newspaper, the San Francisco Examiner. He is still plagued by legal problems growing out of the food distribution program they started to satisfy the kidnappers’ demands. The family is selling its 22-room mansion in Hillsborough, Calif. and will move into a San Francisco apartment.
Steven Weed, Patty’s fiancé when she was dragged from the apartment they shared 11 months ago, is back in Berkeley working on a book about the kidnapping. With the Hearsts, he believes that Patty was brainwashed and is unlikely to return voluntarily. Others, like James L. Browning, the U.S. Attorney for San Francisco, are even more pessimistic. “I doubt,” he says gloomily, “that we’ll ever find her.”