Placerville, Calif. Joyous, miraculous news that a little girl kidnapped nearly two decades ago was found alive gave way Thursday to the horrifying details of how police say she has lived all those years: kept in captivity by a convicted rapist in his backyard and forced to bear two of his children.
Jaycee Lee Dugard, who was 11 in 1991 when she was snatched from her school bus stop, was locked away from the outside world behind a series of fences, sheds and tents in the back of a suburban home.
Her abductor, investigators said, raped her and fathered two children with her, the first when Jaycee was about 14. Those children, both girls now 11 and 15, also were kept hidden away in the backyard compound.
“None of the children have ever been to school, they’ve never been to a doctor,” El Dorado County Undersheriff Fred Kollar said. “They were kept in complete isolation in this compound.”
Dugard, now 29, appeared at a parole office Wednesday with her children and the couple accused of kidnapping her. She was reunited Thursday with her mother, but the family was also learning that their smiling, blue-eyed, blonde ponytailed little girl had spent most of her life in captivity.
“She was in good health, but living in a backyard for the past 18 years does take its toll,” Kollar said.
The backyard compound had electricity from extension cords and a rudimentary outhouse and shower, “as if you were camping,” Kollar said.
Convicted sex offender Phillip Garrido, 58, was being held for investigation of various kidnapping and sex charges. His wife, Nancy Garrido, 54, was also arrested, and authorities said she was with Garrido during the kidnapping in South Lake Tahoe.
Garrido was on lifetime parole and his arrest raises questions about how closely parolees are monitored. But Kollar said a parole officer who had visited Garrido’s house previously had not noticed anything amiss — the compound was well concealed by shrubs, garbage cans and a tarp.
“You can’t see over the fence with the shrubbery and the trees. You can’t see the structures,” Kollar said.
Neighbor Helen Boyer, 78, described the Garridos as nice and friendly and said they cared for Phillip Garrido’s elderly mother.
“If I needed something, they would be the first I would call on,” Boyer said.
The case broke after Garrido was spotted Tuesday with two children as he tried to enter the University of California, Berkeley, campus to hand out religious literature. The officers said he was acting suspiciously toward the children. They questioned him and did a background check, determining he was a parolee, and informed his parole officer.
Garrido was ordered to appear for a parole meeting and arrived Wednesday with Dugard, who identified herself as “Allissa,” his wife and two children. During questioning, corrections officials said he admitted kidnapping Dugard. Investigators said he did not yet have an attorney.
Authorities said they do not know if Garrido also abused his daughters, but they are investigating.
Dugard’s stepfather, who witnessed her abduction and was a longtime suspect in the case, said he was overwhelmed by the news after doing everything he could to help find her.
“It broke my marriage up. I’ve gone through hell, I mean I’m a suspect up until yesterday,” a tearful Carl Probyn, 60, told The Associated Press at his home in Orange, Calif.
Garrido’s compound was in Antioch, a city of 100,000 about 170 miles from her family’s home in South Lake Tahoe. The house was cordoned off with police tape as it was searched by FBI agents and the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department.
In addition to kidnapping allegations, court records showed both Garridos were being held for investigation of rape by force, lewd and lascivious acts with a minor and kidnapping someone under 14 with intent to rape. Phillip Garrido also faces allegations of sexual penetration.