An 18-year captive
Officials say abductor fathered two children with woman taken at 11
PLACERVILLE, Calif. – A woman kidnapped nearly two decades ago when she was an 11-year-old on her way to school was discovered in the Bay Area this week after her alleged abductor aroused the suspicions of a University of California at Berkeley police officer, authorities revealed Thursday as they started to investigate the case.
Authorities said Phillip Garrido, a registered sex offender, and his wife, Nancy, kept Jaycee Lee Dugard captive in a ramshackle warren of sheds, tents and tarps behind a fence and trees in the backyard of a home in Antioch, a suburb of San Francisco. They believe that Garrido, whom acquaintances described as a “religious fanatic,” fathered two daughters with Dugard, who is now 29. The girls are 11 and 15.
Dugard was secluded Thursday with her mother in an East Bay motel. The Garridos were being held in the El Dorado County Jail in Placerville. They are scheduled to be arraigned today.
Dugard was dressed in pink and walking the few blocks to her bus stop in June 1991 when two people in a car snatched her from her South Lake Tahoe neighborhood as her horrified stepfather leaped on a mountain bike in pursuit.
In the 18 years since the girl disappeared, Dugard, whom the Garridos called Allissa, has never been back to school or to the doctor. Nor have her daughters, who are 11 and 15.
“It’s a miracle that we got her back,” Carl Probyn, her stepfather, said in an interview at his home in Orange. “How do you get 18 years back? … I just hope that she can have a decent life from here on out.”
Neighbors and acquaintances said Garrido – who was convicted of rape and kidnapping in 1971 and has been on federal parole since – ran a print shop out of his house, introduced the three as his children and was religious.
A blog called “Voices Revealed,” registered to the 58-year-old Garrido, says that God has given him the ability “to speak in the tongue of angels in order to provide a wake-up call that will in time include the salvation of the entire world.”
Garrido’s chance encounter with an officer on UC Berkeley campus Tuesday unlocked the mystery.
At a packed news conference in Placerville on Thursday, El Dorado County Undersheriff Fred Kollar said Garrido and Dugard’s two daughters had gone to UC Berkeley to hand out fliers and hold an event of a religious nature.
“A UC police officer observed them and thought the interaction between the older male and the two young females was rather suspicious,” Kollar said.
Standard university procedure requires that anyone handing out literature on campus, as Garrido was doing, has to undergo a background check, Kollar said. During that check, the officer discovered that Garrido had been convicted of rape and kidnapping in Nevada, was incarcerated in federal prison in Leavenworth, Kan., and later paroled to California.
On Wednesday, Garrido went to the Concord parole office to meet with his parole officer. It is unclear, Kollar said, whether he was ordered to show up or volunteered. But he arrived with his wife, Dugard and the two girls. “During interviews with the three of them – the two suspects and Jaycee – sufficient information was determined from all three of them that Jaycee was who she was purported to be and that these two people only had information that the kidnappers could have known,” Kollar said.
The Garridos were arrested Wednesday.
In a phone interview with KCRA-TV on Thursday, Garrido said that he had not admitted to a kidnapping and that he had turned his life around since the birth of his first daughter 15 years ago. “I tell you here’s the story of what took place at this house and you’re going to be absolutely impressed. It’s a disgusting thing that took place from the end to the beginning. But I turned my life completely around,” he said.
Police on Thursday began to comb through the compound, which included what authorities called “a backyard within a backyard,” where Dugard and her children apparently spent most of their lives. Authorities said they are unsure whether the three had ever left the property before this week.
Probyn married Dugard’s mother, Terry, when the girl was 7. He said the crime and its aftermath had “ended” his marriage. “Terry was close to her. It’s like having your heart ripped out.”