Sara Jane Moore Biography

Sara Jane Moore gained national notoriety in 1975, when she attempted to assassinate President Gerald Ford outside a San Francisco hotel.


Born in West Virginia on February 15, 1930, Sara Jane Moore was heavily involved with radical leftists in the San Francisco Bay area when she attempted to assassinate President Gerald Ford in 1975. Moore was sentenced to life in prison, but was released on parole in 2007.

Early Life

Sara Jane Moore was born on February 15, 1930, and rose to infamy in 1975 for pointing a revolver at President Gerald Ford and pulling the trigger. Her attempt to assassinate the president failed, and Moore was sentenced to life in prison, leaving the nation to puzzle over how a seemingly mild-mannered bookkeeper could be capable of such an act.

Originally named Sara Jane Kahn, Moore grew up in Kanawha County, West Virginia, and was one of five children born to Ruth and Olaf Kahn. She was said to be a quiet child who was fond of music. At Stonewall Jackson High School, she belonged to the drama club and starred in the school play.

Radical Left-wing Politics

After high school, Moore went through a series of failed marriages and wound up involved in radical leftist groups in the San Francisco Bay area. She worked as a volunteer bookkeeper at People in Need, a $2 million food-distribution program created by Randolph Hearst in an attempt to placate the Symbionese Liberation Army, which had abducted his daughter, Patty Hearst, in February 1974. During that time, Moore was also working as a paid informant for the FBI.

A Would-be Assassin

In 1975, she waited for over three hours outside the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco, where President Gerald Ford was giving a speech to the World Affairs Council. As he was about to climb into his limousine, Moore fired a shot at the president, but the bullet flew over the president's head, ricocheted off a wall and wounded a cab driver. Moore was wrestled to the ground by an onlooker. The shooting came only 17 days after an attempt on Ford's life by Lynette Alice "Squeaky" Fromme—a member of the Manson family.

Moore said her attempt on Ford's life was made in hopes of triggering a revolution. "I finally understood and joined those who have only destruction and violence for a means of making change—and came to understand that violence can sometimes be constructive," she said at her sentencing in 1976.

A Life in Prison

In 1979 Moore escaped prison by climbing over a barbed-wire fence, but was captured several hours later.

She became eligible for parole in 1985, but it was routinely denied. Over the years, she worked as an accountant in the prison drapery factory and donated her needlework to charity. In 2006, when Gerald Ford died, Moore didn't see his funeral, since the television in the common room was always switched to movies or MTV. The following year, at age 77, she was released on parole.

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