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Joseph M. "Joe" Remiro (born 1947) was one of the founding members of the Symbionese Liberation Army. He used the name "Bo" when he was with the group.

Early lifeEdit

Remiro was born and raised in San Francisco in a lower middle-class family,[1] where he attended Roman Catholic schools.[2]

He attended San Francisco City College, dropping out in 1965 to join the US Army.[3]

Military service and VietnamEdit

Remiro served in the Long-range reconnaissance patrol and served two tours in Vietnam.[3] He was a member of the 101st Airborne Division[4]

He had training as an auto mechanic.[5] He participated in search and destroy missions in Vietnam and became addicted to drugs while there.[6]

Return and VVAWEdit

When Remiro returned from service, he joined Vietnam Veterans Against the War and then the more radical Venceremos. He then became involved with the Black Cultural Association, an education program for convicts at the Vacaville psychiatric prison in California, and Peking House, a Maoist collective where he became best friends with fellow future SLA member Russ Little. He also became friendly with Willie Wolfe at this time and Angela Atwood.[5] This was to be beginnings of the Symbionese Liberation Army.[3]

Remiro was arrested in San Francisco in 1970 on a charge of desecrating the American flag by wearing it sewn on the seat of his pants. The charge was reduced to disorderly conduct and he was given a 30-day suspended sentence.[7]

Symbionese Liberation ArmyEdit

Remiro joined the SLA and was considered a useful member due to his knowledge of weaponry from his time in Vietnam. He trained other members in target practice, as well as the use, maintenance and dismantling of weaponry.[1]


On January 10, 1974, Remiro and Russell Little were apprehended by police, as they were driving suspiciously in a quiet neighborhood at 1.30am in a battered van. Little showed the officer a fake license and claimed he was looking for the "Devoto" home. However, Little had been staying there for several weeks with Nancy Ling Perry, who had rented the house under the assumed name. When the officer then asked the passenger to identify himself, Remiro grabbed a holstered pistol. In a flurry of shots, Little was wounded and captured. Remiro escaped on foot. In the van was a stack of SLA leaflets.[5]

Four hours later, Remiro surrendered only a block from the SLA hideout. Officers found the Walther automatic pistol that had been used in the murder of Marcus Foster.[7] Since Little had mentioned the name Devoto, it was presumed by the SLA that it was only a matter of time before police would discover their hideout. That evening the house was doused with gasoline and sprinkled with gunpowder. Nancy Perry was seen driving rapidly away.[5]


As soon as Remiro and Little were booked into Concord City Jail, an extra shift of guards was called in to surround the building. No one got in or out without being thoroughly checked. The two were transferred almost immediately to Contra Costa County Jail, where armed guards on the roof were joined by extra street patrols. New and more serious charges were filed against the pair, bringing their bail to almost three-quarters-of-a-million dollars each. Not wanting to allow any chance for escape or for an assisted breakout, it was decided that Remiro and Little would be transferred to California's most secure penitentiary, San Quentin prison. This move was unprecedented, as suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty, and only the guilty are housed in penitentiaries.[8]

On Feb 17, 1974, Little and Remiro attempted to release a statement to the public with some of their grievances. This was seized by prison authorities[7] but found its way to the media in March. Some grievances included that they were being held in isolation, "the hole" on Death Row, of being starved, and other claims of harassment, intimidation and violence. They claimed that this was under direction of the FBI.[9][10]

In late Feb, 1974, Little's father, O. Jack Little, made a statement to the media and to other SLA members. He offered to take Patty Hearst's place as a kidnap victim. Part of his statement read:

If Russ Little and Joe Remiro are innocent in the Foster murder and are in fact victims of a police state, then how in heaven's name can the kidnaping and threatened execution of Patricia Hearst have any significance to Russ and Joe but to sustain their indictment? ... Seeing as Russ is the only son I have, at least you could have the satisfaction of knowing that you had been instrumental in the destruction of not only Russell but of his whole family. I beg you to think about it, and please agree to release that child unharmed.[11]


In February 1975, the jury sent a note to the judge that it had been unable to reach a verdict in the case.[12] A new jury was selected.[13]

On June 27, 1975, Little and Remiro were sentenced to life imprisonment for murder and the attempted murder of Dr Foster's assistant, Robert Blackburn. Although there were no positive eyewitness identifications of either man at the murder scene, considerable circumstantial evidence, including possession of the murder weapon, was relied upon.The pair was also sentenced for the shooting incident that occurred on their apprehension, as well as an assault that occurred on a prison officer in January 1974.[14]

Personal lifeEdit

Joe has one son, Joshua.[15]

Later yearsEdit

On Feb 18, 1976 Patty Hearst at her armed robbery trial testified that Little and Remiro were waiting in the car while Dr Foster was killed by other members, although Bill Harris claimed that they had not even been there.[16] Little and Remiro also released a statement through their attorney that Hearst was "lying".[12]

Little has stated: "Who actually pulled the trigger that killed Foster was Mizmoon. Nancy [Ling Perry] was supposed to shoot Blackburn, she kind of botched that and DeFreeze ended up shooting him with a shotgun."[17]

In 1988, Bill Harris stated that he maintained the innocence of Russ Little and Remiro.[18]

On June 5, 1981, Little's conviction was overturned by the California Court of Appeal, and he was later acquitted in a retrial in Monterey County.[19] One of the reasons given in the unanimous decision by the three judges was that Superior Court judge Elvin Sheehy issued a "dynamite charge" to a deadlocked jury. This charge asks holdout jurors to reevaluate their decision and urges them to reach a conclusion. In 1977, the California Supreme Court ruled that this dynamite charge prejudiced the right to a fair jury trial. One of the Justices argued that Remiro's conviction should be overturned along with Little's.[20]

Nancy Ling Perry's former boss and friend, Rudy Henderson, also testified at the trial that Ling Perry had confessed to him prior to her death that she, Donald DeFreeze, Willie Wolfe and two other members who were killed in the Los Angeles shootout had shot Dr Foster.[21]

Joe remains in prison today where he is serving a life sentence.[15]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Franks, Lucinda, "This Soldier Still At War", The New York Times, June 15, 1975
  2. "The Revolt of SLA's Joe Remiro", (book review of "This Soldier Still at War"), Daily Independent Journal, San Rafael, Calif. August 2, 1975
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2
  4. "The Symbionese Liberation Army: A Study", United States Congress House Committee on Internal Security, US Govt Printing Office, p 5.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 McLellan, Vin, "The Man and the Mystery behind the Sla Terror", People magazine, April 29, 1974
  6. Bryan, John, "This Soldier Still at War", Harcourt Bruce Javanovich, 1975, ISBN 0-15-190060-4.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2
  8. Burrough, Bryan, "Days of Rage: America's Radical Underground, the FBI and the Forgotten Age of Revolutionary Violence", Penguin, 2015
  10. "Aid for Miss Hearst Hinted by Prisoners", The New York Times, March 7, 1974
  11. "Seven Sought in Hearst Kidnaping", The Progress, (Clearfield, Pennsylvania), Feb 11, 1974, p7.
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Jury Unable to Reach Verdict in SLA Case", The New York Times, Feb 19, 1976
  13. "Scrutiny of Trial Audience is Opposed by ACLU" The New York Times April 15, 1975
  14. "2 in Symbionese Army Get Life In Oakland School Head's Death" The New York Times, June 28, 1975
  15. 15.0 15.1 Bulwa, Dan, For paralyzed meth addict worst is over, San Francisco Gate, Dec 4, 2009
  16. Turner Wallace, "4 Say wrong SLA members were convicted in killing", The New York Times, April 4, 1976
  17. "American Experience | Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst | Transcript". PBS. Retrieved 2012-06-24. 
  18. "Hearst kidnapping called inept caper", Santa Cruz Sentinel, Oct 17, 1988
  19. Around the Nation: Russell Little is Acquitted of Slaying on Coast in 1973. The New York Times. June 5, 1981. Retrieved April 30, 2008.
  20. "Murder Conviction of SLA 'Soldier' Overturned" The New York Times, Feb 28, 1979
  21. "Two Found Guilty in Coast Murder" The New York Times June 10, 1975

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