Kidnapper's California Town Said To Be Hotbed For Sex Offenders

As police search Phillip Garrido's property and adjacent homes for evidence of his involvement in serial killings, the LA Times reports that his town of Antioch, CA, is home to many other sex offenders.

Police and sniffer dogs are looking for evidence that would connect Garrido to the murders of eight prostitutes and a 15-year-old girl in Pittsburg, CA in the 90s. They have expanded their search to include the house next door to Garrido's, for which he served as a caretaker before current owner Damon Robinson moved in. Robinson offered the creepy detail that after Garrido had taken care of the house, "all the locks on my home were backward," meaning "you could lock people in," but not out. Since Garrido's first arrest was for locking a woman in a storage unit and raping her, it seems possible that Garrido held women captive in the house next door as well.

Dugard, however, seems not to have been held under lock and key. Several customers of Garrido's printing business recall meeting Dugard, and one says, "She was the design person. She did the art work. She was the genius." She had apparently been in regular email contact with customers, and never mentioned being kidnapped. Garrido apparently treated Dugard like both a wife and a daughter, and her step-grandmother Wilma Probyn says Dugard has "a lot of guilt, that she bonded with this guy." As for her daughters, Dugard's stepfather Carl Probyn says, "They are upset about this because that's their father and he's in jail."

According to experts, guilt isn't the only difficulty Dugard and her daughters will face in readjusting to the outside world. Other long-term kidnap victims, like Elizabeth Fritzl, whose father Josef Fritzl held her in a basement in Austria for 24 years, have not fared well upon release. Dugard is at risk for posttraumatic stress disorder and depression, and according to the LA Times, her daughters "don't have any memory of a well-adjusted childhood to draw on." Pyschologist Naftali Berrill says that for Dugard, "The adjustment to the outside world is going to be very brutal/ How do you undo years of abuse, years of being held captive?"

The discovery of Garrido's secret life has also shed light on a larger problem: the concentration of sex offenders in Antioch, CA. Garrido's ZIP code is home to more than 100 — at least three live within walking distance of Garrido's house. Sex offenders often move to places like Antioch — rural areas with low property values — because they're legally barred from living near schools, parks, and other places where children gather. But Dugard's kidnapping may call into question the way California deals with these criminals. Clearly, Garrido was released too soon. But did forcing him and other sex offenders to congregate in an out-of-the-way, unincorporated area with a less-than-ideal police presence put women in that area at risk? And did a high concentration of criminals make residents blind to Garrido's bizarre behavior? If so, California and the country may have to consider whether barring sex offenders from living in certain places makes the places where they can live unacceptably dangerous.

Sex Offenders Move To Antioch Area 'Because They Can' [LA Times]
Police Expand Jaycee Kidnap Search [Mirror]
Jaycee Lee Dugard Police Bring In Sniffer Dogs And Start Digging [TimesOnline]
Jaycee Lee Dugard's Private Reunion With Family Goes Smoothly, But Fragile Days Are Ahead [NY Daily News]
Family Describes Jaycee Dugard's Condition After 18-Year Abduction [People]
For Kidnap Victims, Recovery Can Come Slowly, If At All [LA Times]