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Kidnapping victim was not always locked away

Jaycee Dugard, who was allegedly held captive by Phillip Garrido for 18 years, was introduced to visitors at her captor’s home.
/ Source: The New York Times

About a year ago, Ben Daughdrill drove to the home of Phillip Garrido near the Bay Area suburb of Antioch to check on a printing job he had hired Mr. Garrido to do.

Mr. Daughdrill was met by a polite young woman with blonde hair who Mr. Garrido had said was his daughter Allissa.

“She was the design person; she did the art work; she was the genius,” Mr. Daughdrill said.

Mr. Daughdrill said that he had regularly exchanged e-mail messages and even spoken on the phone with Allissa, but that she had never hinted at her real identity or at the secret of her life with Mr. Garrido.

The woman, in fact, was Jaycee Dugard, the authorities say, and on Friday, Mr. Garrido, 58, and his wife, Nancy, 54, were arraigned on more than two dozen counts of kidnapping, rape, false imprisonment and other charges in connection with Ms. Dugard’s abduction in 1991 as she walked to a bus stop in South Lake Tahoe. She was 11.

Ms. Dugard and her two daughters — both fathered by Mr. Garrido, the police said, when Ms. Dugard was a teenager — had been living in a squalid compound hidden behind Mr. Garrido’s plain single-story house. Her seemingly normal interaction with customers of Mr. Garrido’s printing business was just one of the many revelations on Friday in the bizarre and unfolding story about her life over the last 18 years.

“We were in hell,” said Ms. Dugard’s stepfather, Carl Probyn, who had been watching from a distance when Ms. Dugard was abducted near their home. “We climbed out, and here we are, still climbing.”

'She is feeling guilt'
Mr. Probyn said that Ms. Dugard had told her mother, Terry Probyn, that her rescue had unleashed a tangle of emotions. Ms. Dugard was reunited with her real family after revealing her identity to Mr. Garrido’s parole officer on Wednesday, but she has not spoken publicly.

“Jaycee expressed some regret, like guilt when she saw her mother, that she hadn’t escaped,” Mr. Probyn said. “She is feeling guilt for having bonded with this guy the way she did. He had her for 18 years. We had her for 11.”

According to the authorities, Ms. Dugard, 29, and her children, 11 and 15, lived in a dirt-floor compound about the size of a tennis court and consisting of several ragged tents, hand-built sheds and small efforts at creature comforts: a set of wind chimes, for example, and a dingy couch.

Mr. Probyn said Ms. Dugard had told her mother that she sometimes was forced to live in a box, and the police said that at least one of the sheds was soundproof. As investigators prowled the compound this week, a wire cage could be seen next to a tent.

Religious rants
Even as Mr. Garrido — a convicted sex offender who had recently taken to posting religious rants on the Internet — and his wife pleaded not guilty on Friday in the kidnapping case, the police searched their home for clues in a string of nine murders. The killings, from 1998 to 2002, involved mostly prostitutes, many of whom were sexually violated, said Capt. Daniel Terry of the investigations unit of the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Department.

Investigators said the victims’ bodies had been found in industrialized areas of the cities of Pittsburg and Bay Point, which are near Antioch. Captain Terry said that the method of killing was similar in many of the murders, and that the police believed that Mr. Garrido once worked at the location where several of the bodies were found.

Law enforcement officials also bemoaned missed opportunities.

In a news conference Friday, Sheriff Warren E. Rupf of Contra Costa County, which includes Antioch, offered a blunt assessment of his department’s performance, saying it had not adequately investigated a 911 call in 2006 reporting that Mr. Garrido was a psychotic sex addict who was housing children in tents in his backyard. In 2008, during an unannounced visit, an even larger team of investigators checking up on sexual predators also failed to notice the secretive backyard area behind an eight-foot fence.

“Organizationally, we should have been more inquisitive or curious and turned over a rock or two,” Sheriff Rupf said, adding that there were “absolutely no excuses.”

“We should have had a better result,” he said.

How Ms. Dugard and her children lived outside in a lot surrounded by other homes without detection for nearly two decades, as the authorities suspect, remains one of the questions in the case.

With a criminal record dating to the 1970s, including convictions for rape and kidnapping, Mr. Garrido was on federal parole. His arrest on Wednesday came after he attracted attention from the campus police at the University of California, Berkeley, two days before, when he wanted to hand out religious pamphlets. A university spokesman, Dan Mogulof, said Mr. Garrido had been accompanied by two children, who caught the eye of campus personnel because they were “almost robotic.”

The campus police ran Mr. Garrido’s name through databases and learned of his criminal past. After the children told the campus police that they had “an older sister” at home, university officials alerted Mr. Garrido’s parole officer in Contra Costa County, who had never heard of Mr. Garrido’s having children.

'A very stealth operation'
Gordon Hinkle, a spokesman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said Mr. Garrido’s parole officer then interviewed Mr. Garrido, his wife and Ms. Dugard and learned of her true identity.

Mr. Hinkle praised his departments’ work and defended it against suggestions that parole officers had neglected to notice the backyard compound during numerous home visits.

“The way that the backyard was arranged, he basically cut the property in two,” Mr. Hinkle said. “It was very camouflaged with trees. It was a very stealth operation.”

Neighbors and acquaintances said they knew all too well that Mr. Garrido was an eccentric character — his nickname in the neighborhood was “creepy Phil” — but had little clue as to the depth of his alleged depravity.

Cheyvonne Molino and her husband, James, said they had known Mr. Garrido in a professional relationship for about a decade but only recently met his two daughters with Ms. Dugard — apparently named Starlite and Angel — most recently at a birthday party on Aug. 15 at a local community center.

While the younger child seemed happy and carefree, Ms. Molino said, the 15-year-old seemed overly dependent on her father. “Before walking across the room, she was checking to see if that’s O.K.,” Ms. Molino said. “She’d ask, ‘Dad is it O.K. if I go here?’ ”

Diane Doty, a neighbor, said she had encountered Mr. Garrido on the street recently and was even more disturbed than usual by his demeanor. “He said he hadn’t seen me in a while,” Ms. Doty said. “And he said, ‘You’ll see me on the news soon.’ ”

Maria Newman contributed from New York, Rebecca Cathcart from Los Angeles and Sandy Harrison from Placerville, Calif.

This story, "Kidnapping Victim Was Not Always Locked Away," originally appeared in The New York Times.