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Myrna Opsahl

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 accident.

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.




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