Placerville, Calif. Through it all, the kidnapping, the repeated sexual assaults and the isolation of being hidden away for over 18 years, Jaycee Dugard survived by playing the good girl.
She followed the orders of the serial sex offender who had immobilized her with a stun gun in June 1991, stashed her in his car and then laughed to his accomplice-wife that he couldn’t believe he had gotten away with it.
Over the following months, if Dugard balked at his commands, Phillip Garrido terrorized her by turning on the gun so she could hear it “zap.”
“I didn’t want it to happen again, so I was good,” she recalled in vivid grand jury testimony released Thursday after her abductors were sentenced to prison. She “tried to do what he wanted me to do even though I didn’t like it.”
The testimony was unsealed at the request of several media organizations, including The Associated Press. Detailed descriptions of sex abuse were redacted, but the testimony painted a portrait of a vulnerable child, teenager and young woman who fought to preserve her innocence and spirit and protect the two daughters she had with Garrido.
For months, the only person she saw was Garrido, who locked her inside a backyard studio and brought her meals.
When she confessed feeling lonely, he gave her a cat, which he took away once it started urinating indoors. He introduced her to his wife, Nancy, and Dugard was moved into another backyard room where the three of them would sleep.
After assaulting Dugard, Garrido “would, like, go get food, and we’d sit up and watch TV and movies and stuff,” she recalled. “I had told them my birthday, and so they came in... And they gave me some Barbie stuff because they knew I liked to play with Barbies.”
Garrido also gained control over his young hostage by manipulating her confusion. He at first refused to tell her why he had taken her, or even his name. But he eventually persuaded her that “I was helping somebody, even though it was in a really sick, perverted way,” Dugard recalled.
“In the beginning, he said that I was helping him and that, you know, he got me so that he wouldn’t have to do this to anybody else. So I was helping him,” Dugard, now 31, said during her September 2010 grand jury appearance. “I guess that’s how I felt, yeah. That’s what he told me.”
The relationship changed after the births of their children, the first when Dugard was 14. The sexual assaults became less frequent and stopped altogether once Dugard became pregnant again a little more than two years later. As the girls grew older, Garrido wanted them to act and go out in public like a real family.
Dugard and the daughters were instructed to call Garrido “dad” and his wife, “mom.” He told Dugard, whom he always had called “Snoopy,” to pick an alias. She chose “Allissa.”
“We just started like, acting like a family, and we would celebrate their birthdays together. Just trying to be normal, I guess,” she said of the years after her daughters, now 13 and 16, were born.
At times, Garrido would offer an apology of sorts, saying “he’s so sorry for what he did; he can’t believe he did it. I would tell him, ‘It’s OK. You know, I’m OK. You don’t have to worry.’”