[Ppnews] Former SLA member James Kilgore paroled

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon May 11 10:16:22 EDT 2009

Former SLA member James Kilgore paroled

Don Thompson, Associated Press

Monday, May 11, 2009

(05-11) 04:00 PDT Sacramento --

The last captured member of the Symbionese Liberation Army, the 
radical 1970s-era group notorious for bank robberies, killings and 
the kidnapping of Patricia Hearst, was released from a California 
prison Sunday morning.

James William Kilgore was paroled from High Desert State Prison in 
northeastern California after serving a six-year sentence for the 
murder of suburban Sacramento housewife Myrna Opsahl during an April 
1975 bank robbery.

State Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesman Oscar 
Hidalgo said Kilgore was met by his wife after parole agents picked 
him up at the prison in Susanville (Lassen County) and processed him there.

That allowed the couple to travel directly to their home in Illinois, 
rather than have Kilgore wait to check in Monday with a parole agent 
in Sacramento before leaving the state. He now has two weeks to 
report to Illinois parole officials. Kilgore's wife moved to Illinois 
after he was arrested in 2002 in Cape Town, South Africa, after 
nearly three decades on the run.

Kilgore, 61, 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 built a new life as a doctor's wife in St. 
Paul, Minn. Olson, formerly known as Kathleen Soliah, was paroled 
from a California prison in March and returned to her Midwestern home.

Besides kidnapping Hearst, the group of mostly white, privileged 
would-be revolutionaries led by a black ex-convict 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 UC Santa Barbara in 1969. He escaped a 1974 shootout 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. He was so bold as to write a South Africa high school textbook 
titled "Making History" under that alias.

There he married an American woman and fathered two sons. His wife, 
Teresa Barnes, is now an associate professor of gender and women's 
studies at the University of Illinois in Champaign. She declined to 
comment when reached by the Associated Press.

Kilgore served his state sentence after finishing a 54-month federal 
prison term for using a dead baby's birth certificate to obtain a 
passport in Seattle and for possessing a pipe bomb in his San 
Francisco-area apartment in 1975.

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation officials say 
Kilgore was a model prisoner who tutored other inmates. Even Jon 
Opsahl, whose 42-year-old mother was shot to death by another SLA 
member as she deposited a church collection 34 years ago, expressed 
sympathy in a recent interview for a man he called an idealist who 
"got in with the wrong crowd."

"I wish him well and I'm glad he served his time," Opsahl said.


This article appeared on page B - 2 of the San Francisco Chronicle

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