By Patrick Mondout
Myrna Opsahl was the second murder victim of the terrorist group
that called itself the Symbionese Liberation Army.
She died from a shotgun blast on April
21, 1975 during a Carmichael, California bank robbery. The 42 year old
mother of four was unlucky enough to have been dropping of church funds at
the local bank with a pair of friends when the terrorists entered.
Kidnapped newspaper heiress Patty Hearst
was the driver of the getaway car during this robbery.
Steven Soliah was the only one charged with the crime during the 20th
Century. He was tried in 1976 but prosecutors, who didn't believe Patricia
Hearst's version of the events (nor did the view her as someone who a jury
would see as credible, given the controversy of the time), did not use her
as a witness. With little evidence to go on, he was acquitted.
Her death led to a lengthy campaign for justice by her son Jon, who
demanded for years that Sacramento District Attorney Jan Scully file
charges. A break came when ammunition found in a former SLA safehouse
matched up with that taken from Myrna Opsahl. This led to the January 2002
arrests of Emily Harris, William
Harris, and Kathleen Soliah, and Michael
Bortin. James Kilgore was later
extradited from South Africa for his role in the murder. Emily Harris
admitted to firing the fatal shotgun blast, but claimed it was an
In Patty Hearst's memoir, she claimed Emily Harris said, "Oh,
she's dead, but it doesn't really matter. She was a bourgeois pig anyway.
Her husband is a doctor." Not only was her husband a doctor, but he
was the surgeon on duty when she was rushed to the hospital. She was
already dead when he was called to the operating room.
Hearst, Steven Soliah, and Wendy
Yoshimura received immunity for agreeing to testify against the five
defendants. Myrna's son Jon runs a
website in her memory.
- Shana Alexander, Anyone's
Daughter: The Times and Trials of Patricia Hearst,
- Carolyn Anspacher & the San Francisco Chronicle, The
Trial of Patty Hearst, Great Fidelity Press, 1976.
- Marilyn Baker, Exclusive!:
the inside story of Patricia Hearst and the SLA, Macmillan
- Mary F. Beal, Safe
House: A Casebook Study of Revolutionary Feminism in the 1970's,
Northwest Matrix, 1976.
- Jerry Belcher & Don West, Patty/Tania,
Pyramid Books, 1975
- David Boulton, The
Making Of Tania Hearst, Bergenfield, N.J., U.S.A.: New American
- John Bryan, This
Soldier Still At War, (on Joe Remiro) Harcourt Brace Jovanovich,
- Patty Hearst with Alvin Moscow, Patty
Hearst: Her Own Story, New York: Avon, 1982. This was the title
after the movie came out. Original title: Every Secret Thing.
- Sharon D. Hendry, Soliah:
The Sara Jane Olson Story, Cable Publishing, 2002.
- Janey Jimenez (U.S. Marshal who escorted Hearst between prison and the
court during the trial) with Ted Berkman, My
Prisoner, Sheed Andrews and McMeel, 1977.
- Jean Brown Kinney, An
American journey: The short life of Willy Wolfe, Simon and Schuster,
- Vin McLellan, Paul Avery, The
voices of guns: The definitive and dramatic story of the twenty-two-month
career of the Symbionese Liberation Army, one of the most bizarre chapters
in the history of the American Left, Putnam, 1977.
- John Pascal, The
Strange Case of Patty Hearst, New American Library, 1974.
- Findley & Craven Payne, Life
and Death of the SLA, Ballantine, 1976.
- Robert Brainard Pearsall, Symbionese
Liberation Army: Documents and Communications, Rodopi, 1974
- Fred Soltysik, In
Search of a Sister 1976.
- Steven Weed, with Scott Swanton. My
Search for Patty Hearst, New York: Warner, 1976. Weed was Hearst's
boyfriend at the time of the kidnapping. That was the end of their
- Video: Patty
Hearst, based on Every Secret Thing, directed by Paul
- Video: The Ordeal of Patty Hearst (1979) (TV)
- Video: Patty Hearst: The E! True Hollywood Story (2000) (TV)
- Video: Neverland:
The Rise and Fall of the Symbionese Liberation Army aka Guerrilla:
The Taking of Patty Hearst, Directed by Robert Stone, 2004,