Video: Suspect speaks

NBC News and msnbc.com
updated 8/28/2009 5:37:58 PM ET 2009-08-28T21:37:58

The 58-year-old convicted sex offender accused of kidnapping Jaycee Lee Dugard in 1991 acknowledged fathering two children with her and said he did “a disgusting thing ... in the beginning,” but that documents he left with the FBI this week would tell a “heartwarming story” of how he had turned his life around.

The man, Phillip Garrido — who owns a printing business and a separate concern, God’s Desires, that he called a church — urged people to wait for his whole story before passing judgment on him.

“I’m in a very serious situation,” Garrido acknowledged in an interview Thursday with NBC station KCRA of Sacramento, Calif. But “I feel much better now. This is a process that needed to take place.”

Garrido, whom California corrections records describe as a towering, 6-foot-4 man weighing less than 200 pounds, is accused of having kidnapped Dugard from her home in Meyers in 1991, when she was 11 years old. Investigators alleged that he raped her for years and fathered two daughters with her, who are now 15 and 11.

Garrido — a registered sex offender on parole in California with a string of offenses dating to 1971 — and his wife, Nancy, 54, were held without bond Friday after pleading not guilty in El Dorado Superior Court to 28 felony counts, including forcible abduction, rape, sexual assault and false imprisonment. Court documents alleged that the Garridos “had substantial sexual conduct with Jane Doe” — apparently a reference to Dugard.

Prosecutors told KCRA that they were seeking several “special enhancements” that would ensure that the Garridos served the rest of their lives in prison if convicted.

Friday afternoon, police in Pittsburg, Calif., executed a search warrant at the Garridos’ home in Antioch. Authorities said the officers were seeking clues in the slayings of several prostitutes whose bodies were dumped near the Pittsburg industrial park where Phillip Garrido worked during the 1990s.

Neighbors suspicious, but no signs of wrongdoing
Phillip Garrido was released in 1988 from Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kan., after having served nearly 11 years of a 50-year sentence for kidnapping and raping a South Lake Tahoe, Nev., woman in 1976, according to Nevada corrections records. Nevada officials asked Thursday that Garrido also be held for violation of his parole in that case.

The Garridos lived in a house in Antioch, where Dugard and the two children lived in an isolated backyard compound of tents, outbuildings and a shed, authorities said. Phillip Garrido’s mother, who has dementia, also lived with the couple in the main house, Garrido’s father said Friday in an interview with The Associated Press.

Neighbors had suspicions about the tents and buildings in Garrido’s yard for several years. Some said they had called police from time to time, but authorities never noticed anything.

Contra Costa County Sheriff Warren Rupf told reporters that he and his officers were “beating ourselves up” for having failed to act after a 2006 call to 911 in which the caller said Garrido was psychotic and had tents in his back yard.

A former FBI agent who oversaw the initial search for Dugard in 1991 also said he was “haunted” by the possibility that other key clues were missed over the years.

“Did we miss something during the initial investigation?” asked Dennis Joyce, a retired FBI investigator who led a team of about 30 FBI agents and up to 40 local law enforcement officers on the original kidnapping case.

Joyce said Phillip Garrido appeared to be a “very sick individual,” but he added: “Even people that sick apparently have crafty skills.”

In the interview with KCRA, Garrido disputed that he was a troubled man. While he acknowledged that he fathered the two young girls with Dugard, he did not admit to having abducted Dugard, and he said that he had never molested or harmed the two children in any way.

“Those two girls — they slept in my arms every single night, and I never touched them,” he told KCRA.

Documents left with FBI
Garrido said Thursday that he had left important documents with an agent at the FBI office in San Francisco. He would not reveal details of what was in the documents, but he said they would tell “the most powerful story coming from the witness — the victim,” apparently a reference to Dugard.

Image: Phillip Garrido, Nancy Garrido
Deaprtment of Justice via EPA
Phillip Garrido and his wife, Nancy Garrido, are in custody in the  1991 kidnapping of an 11-year-old girl.

“If you take this a step at a time, you’re going to fall over backwards, and in the end, you’re going to find the most powerful, heartwarming story,” he said.

The break in the 18-year-old case came when Garrido was spotted Tuesday with two children as he tried to enter the campus of the University of California in Berkeley to hand out religious literature.

Garrido said that when he was questioned by police Wednesday, “I was accompanied by two children —Jaycee Dugard’s two children that we had.” He said he could say nothing else about the case because “I need to protect the rights of Jaycee Lee Dugard.”

While Garrido would not talk about his history or his beliefs, he emerges in interviews with people who knew him and on a blog he appears to have written for about 2½ years as an intense religious devotee who claims to have learned to communicate through telepathic mind control. Acquaintances said he would sometimes break out into song and assert that God spoke to him through a box.

Blog reveals interest in mind control
Garrido would often set up a tent at a wrecking yard in Pittsburg, west of Antioch, where he would preach, a person at the wrecking yard told NBC station KNTV of San Francisco. The person said Garrido had been there as recently as Wednesday, the same day he was arrested, to leave several pamphlets.

The couple who own the wrecking yard, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they had known Garrido for 10 years and allowed him to preach outside their business.

The couple said that at a recent house party they organized, the Garrido children seemed to be in “culture shock” and did not seem to know how to act around other children their ages.

Since February 2007, a blog titled Voices Revealed has been published that appears to have been written by Garrido. It was not immediately possible Friday to confirm that Garrido was the author of the blog, which is one of millions of accounts hosted by a large blog services company, but numerous postings refer readers to God’s Desire, which is incorporated as a religious organization with the California secretary of state’s office.

It also points readers to a separate Web site and e-mail account that msnbc.com has confirmed are registered in Garrido’s name and address in Antioch.

Writing in all capital letters, the author said in his first post, in February 2007, that “this all began by God removing a problem from my shoulders that behavioral scientist [sic] believe is not possible to remove. Since then my life has seen major improvements allowing me to stand here today a free man.”

The author does not explicitly say what the problem was, but in other postings, he discusses schizophrenia as a focus of his research.

In May 2008, the author began posting messages revealing his belief that he had the “freedom to speak in a tongue unknown to the medical field, scientific world and the public in general.”

Slideshow: Captive’s tale

“I Phillip Garrido have clearly demonstrated the ability to control sound with my mind and have developed a device for others to witness this phenomena,” he wrote. “By using a sound generator to provide the sound, and a headphone amplification system, (a device to focuc [sic] your hearing so as to increase the sensitivity of what one is listening to) I have produced a set of voices by effectively controlling the sound to pronounce words through my own mental powers.”

In the last posting, dated Aug. 14, the author says “the Creator has given me 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.”

By Alex Johnson of msnbc.com with reports from NBC stations KCRA of Sacramento, Calif., and KNTV of San Francisco.

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