Video: Jaycee Dugard’s aunt speaks out

updated 9/3/2009 4:47:29 PM ET 2009-09-03T20:47:29

Abductee Jaycee Dugard remembers her family and is enjoying getting to know her younger sister, who was a baby when Dugard was kidnapped 18 years ago, her aunt said Thursday.

Tina Dugard spoke to reporters at the FBI's Los Angeles office, describing her niece's reunion with her mother and sister.

"The smile on my sister's face was as wide as the sea. Her oldest daughter is finally home," Tina Dugard said.

Phillip and Nancy Garrido have pleaded not guilty to kidnap, rape and imprisonment charges related to Dugard's 1991 abduction. Police say Phillip Garrido fathered Dugard's two daughters and lived with them in a backyard encampment of tents and sheds.

Tina Dugard said her niece's daughters, ages 11 and 15, appeared to be bright and educated, even though they did not attend school.

"Jaycee did a truly amazing job with the limited resources and education that she herself had, and we are so proud of her," Dugard said.

The family's location has been a closely guarded secret since the 29-year-old woman reappeared last week. She was 11 when she was kidnapped.

Tina Dugard said the family has been spending time "in a secluded place," reconnecting and getting to know each other again.

"Not only have we laughed and cried together, but we've spent time sitting quietly, taking pleasure in each other's company," Dugard said.

Tina Dugard took no questions from reporters and did not comment on the investigation into her niece's abduction. A spokeswoman for the Dugard family, Erika Price Schulte, said they would have no further public comment for now.

The secrets of the Garrido home began to surface early last week.

Garrido's visit to the University of California, Berkeley's campus last week to hand out religious leaflets drew the attention of campus police, which ultimately led to a meeting with his parole officer. Garrido arrived for a meeting with his wife, Dugard and the two girls. Authorities say he confessed to snatching Dugard in 1991. The Garridos were arrested Aug. 27.

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.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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