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'70s radical in Hearst kidnapping paroled from Calif. prison

Convicted in bank killing

James Kilgore served a six-year sentence. James Kilgore served a six-year sentence.
By Don Thompson
Associated Press / May 11, 2009
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SACRAMENTO - The last captured member of the Symbionese Liberation Army, the radical 1970s-era group notorious for bank robberies, killings, and the kidnapping of newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst, was released from prison yesterday, a corrections official said.

James William Kilgore, 61, was paroled from High Desert State Prison after serving a six-year sentence for the murder of Myrna Opsahl during an April 1975 bank robbery.

State Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesman Oscar Hidalgo said parole agents processed Kilgore's release at the Susanville prison.

Kilgore has been granted permission to join his wife in Illinois, where she moved after he was arrested in 2002 in Cape Town following nearly three decades on the run. He has two weeks to report to Illinois parole officials.

Kilgore had eluded arrest longer than any of his fellow SLA fugitives. His cover unraveled after the 1999 arrest of his former girlfriend, Sara Jane Olson, who had become a doctor's wife in St. Paul. Olson, formerly known as Kathleen Soliah, was paroled from a California prison in March.

His release marks "the end of the SLA and the era," said Stuart Hanlon, a San Francisco lawyer who represented several SLA members. The gang of would-be revolutionaries led by an ex-convict also was responsible for the murder of Oakland school superintendent Marcus Foster, bank robberies, and the attempted bombings of Los Angeles police cars. Joseph Remiro is serving a life sentence for Foster's 1973 murder.

Kilgore, a native of Portland, Ore., joined the SLA after graduating from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1969. He escaped the 1974 shoot-out with Los Angeles police in which six of the SLA's original members died.

He disappeared on Sept. 18, 1975, as the FBI arrested Hearst and other SLA members in San Francisco. He resurfaced as University of Cape Town professor Charles William Pape, even writing a South Africa high school text book titled "Making History" under the alias.

Kilgore married an American woman, Teresa Barnes, and fathered two sons. Barnes, an associate professor at the University of Illinois in Champaign, declined to comment when reached by the Associated Press.

Susan B. Jordan, a lawyer who represented another SLA member, sad that some romanticized the group, despite the violence, after its members kidnapped Hearst and demanded her wealthy family distribute food to the poor of San Francisco.

"They were an extremely misguided group of idealists. They really believed they could make the world better by what they did," Jordan said.

New York lawyer Louis Freeman, who represented Kilgore after his arrest, did not respond to messages left yesterday and in previous days.

The Los Angeles Police Protective League and the National Association of Police Organizations objected to letting Kilgore serve his year of parole in another state, but there has been little reaction in Illinois.