Young Woman Rescued After 18 Years Of Captivity In BackyardS

Jaycee Lee Dugard, who was kidnapped from South Lake Tahoe at 11 years old, has been found after living for 18 years in "a backyard compound of sheds and tarps" owned by her alleged captor.



In 1991, Dugard was forced into a car while her stepfather, Carl Probyn, tried to give chase. Probyn says the kidnapping ended his marriage to Dugard's mother Terry, and that "It's like having your heart ripped out." Probyn was initially a suspect in the kidnapping, but the real culprits appear to be Philip Garrido and his wife Nancy. Garrido had apparently held Dugard in a network of tents, sheds, and tarps in a "hidden backyard-within-a-backyard" in Antioch, CA. In the 18 years he kept her there, he raped her and fathered two of her children, the first when Dugard was just 14. Her daughters Angel and Starlet are now 11 and 15. The children had never been to school, or to a doctor, according to authorities.

Garrido was caught when a police officer noticed him acting strangely toward the girls on the UC Berkeley campus. A background check revealed that Garrido was on parole, and was a registered sex offender previously convicted of rape and kidnapping. The day after the Berkeley incident, Garrido visited his parole officer — possibly voluntarily — with Dugard and the two girls, as well as his wife Nancy. He and Nancy Garrido were both arrested.

From a rambling radio interview, and from his blog titled "Voices Revealed," it seems clear that Garrido was delusional. On the radio, he said,

You're going to find the most powerful story coming from the witness, the victim - you wait. 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 also claimed that although "It's a disgusting thing that took place from the end to the beginning," but that "I turned my life completely around." His blog includes an affidavit, supposedly signed by multiple people of Garrido's acquaintance, stating in part that,

This document is to affirm that 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. by using a sound generator to provide the sound, and a headphone amplification system, ( a device to focuc 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.

Somewhat creepily, the affidavit also says,

Concerning the state of Phillips' mindfulness and his freedom to conduct himself appropriately: I will confirm that out of the many years I have interacted with him, business or otherwise, he has always acted mature and intelligent. He has had a steady personality throughout the many years I have known him and is fully capable of handling himself respectfully regardless of the possible out come of any given event. He has never displayed an unsuitable, incoherent or improper cognitive behavior all the years I have known him, nor has he ever mentioned the subject of him hearing voices to my staff or me.

The blog post reproduces images of signed affidavits, but one alleged signatory, realtor Deepal Karunaratne, says he never actually signed. He tells the LA Times that Garrido said "he was talking to angels and all these weird things," and that,

One day I happened to be there at his place, and he told me to wear this device, like headphones. He asked me if I heard something. I said, 'Yeah, I heard some noises.' I didn't know he'd used my name. I did not know that he was a registered sex offender. I'm kind of stunned.

Most people who had contact with Garrido have had a similar reaction to his arrest. What's disturbing, though, is how much people around him seemed to know about both his delusions and his activities. One woman met Starlet and Angel, whom he called "his girls" rather than "his daughters" — they told her they were home-schooled and went to a church with only five people in it. Another woman describes being "freaked out" by Garrido and seeing his backyard compound. She says, "He had little girls and women living in that backyard, and they all looked kind of the same. They never talked, and they kept to themselves." The fact that various acquaintances thought Garrido was crazy and actually saw Dugard and her daughters reveals how willing we sometimes are to ignore the strange behavior of others, and how this willingness can sometimes allow criminals to operate with impunity for years.

Kidnapped Girl Had First Child At 14; Kept In Backyard Shed [Newser]
Jaycee Lee Dugard Kidnap: Suspect Phillip Garrido Appeals To Public From Prison [Guardian]
Woman Kidnapped As An 11-year-old In '91 Found [LA Times]
Kidnapped At 11, Woman Emerges After 18 Years [NYT]
Girl Grew Up Locked Away In Backyard Sheds [CNN]
Kidnapped Child Found 18 Years Later [MSNBC]