---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 16 Jan 2002 20:37:40 -0800
From: radtimes <email@example.com>
Subject: Three Former SLA Members Arrested
Three Former SLA Members Arrested in Deadly 1975
Bank Robbery Near Sacramento.
AP. 16 January 2002.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Three former members of the Symbionese Liberation
Army, the 1970s radical group that kidnapped newspaper heiress Patty
Hearst, were arrested Wednesday in connection with a deadly bank robbery
carried out 27 years ago.
Emily Harris, ex-husband Bill Harris and Mike Bortin will be charged
with first-degree murder in the slaying of a bank customer during a 1975
holdup in the suburb of Carmichael, authorities said.
Emily Harris was arrested at her home in Los Angeles, her ex-husband was
taken into custody in Oakland, and Bortin was arrested in Portland, Ore.
The arrests came two days before the sentencing of another former SLA
member, Sara Jane Olson, for her role in a failed 1975 attempt to blow
up Los Angeles police cars. Los Angeles District Attorney's spokeswoman
Sandi Gibbons would not say whether Olson would testify in the robbery
"I question the timing of this," said Shawn Snider Chapman, one of
Prosecutors had hoped Olson's testimony would advance the bank robbery
case. Bortin is married to one of Olson's sisters. But Olson has denied
any involvement in the holdup.
Chapman said that during the two years she has investigated the Olson
case, "all I've learned and all I've read is that they consider this to
be an unprosecutable case. All these people have been snatched from
their homes for nothing."
Unlike Olson, who was captured in Minnesota in 1999 after two decades on
the run, the three SLA figures arrested Wednesday were not fugitives.
Their whereabouts had been known to authorities for years.
The 1975 holdup of the Crocker National Bank led to the slaying of
42-year-old Myrna Opsahl, a mother of four who was shot while depositing
a church collection. At the time, the robbers were widely believed to be
members of the group that kidnapped Hearst as a 19-year-old from her
Hearst later wrote about the holdup, claiming she was waiting in a
getaway car. She placed Olson and Bortin at the scene and said it was
Emily Harris who shot Opsahl. But none of them was ever charged in the
The case has been the subject of numerous investigations, and Dr. Jon
Opsahl, the son of the victim, had lobbied prosecutors for years to file
After kidnapping Hearst in 1974, the SLA demanded that her parents,
Randolph and Catherine Hearst, distribute millions in food to the needy.
Ultimately, Hearst became a member of the SLA and took the name Tania.
Two months after the kidnapping, she was photographed carrying a carbine
during an SLA bank holdup in San Francisco. Although she claimed she was
the victim of brainwashing, she was convicted of bank robbery and
sentenced to seven years in prison. She served about two years before
President Carter commuted her sentence. In 2000, she was pardoned by
The Harrises spent eight years in prison for kidnapping Hearst. Emily
Harris had been living in Southern California under an assumed name and
was working as a computer consultant. Her former husband is remarried,
the father of two, and was working as a private investigator.
Bortin, 53, spent 18 months in prison for possession of explosives. He
is married and has a flooring business.
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