Philip Garrido may be cleared of suspicions of serial killing, but questions are beginning to surround his wife Nancy — why she would marry a convicted rapist, and why she held Jaycee Dugard captive while her husband was in jail.
A four-day search of his home and surrounding buildings found no evidence that Garrido was involved in the killings of prostitutes and a teenage girl in the Pittsburg, CA area. But there's no doubt that he kidnapped and abused Jaycee Lee Dugard — and that his wife Nancy helped keep Dugard captive. Police are calling her a "full partner" in her husband's crimes, and have charged her with rape, kidnapping, forcible lewd acts, and forcible rape. She also watched over Dugard all by herself in 1993, when Phillip Garrido was in jail for a parole violation. But why she would go along with her husband's deranged desires remains unclear.
Nancy Garrido met Phillip when she visited her uncle in prison. Garrido was serving time for kidnapping and rape, and she married him while he was still in jail. She moved into their Antioch house before him, caring for his ailing mother until he was released from prison. Acquaintances say Nancy Garrido was always "passive." Maria Christenson, who did business with the couple, said that Garrido always followed her husband's lead and that "She never was a happy-go-lucky person. She always looked a little down." Neighbor Helen Boyer said, "I really feel bad for Nancy. I think he had her so brainwashed."
Nancy Garrido's lawyer Gilbert Maines says he plans to use her "state of mind" to construct a defense. But according to criminal defense lawyer Ted Cassman, "brainwashing" will be difficult to prove. Cassman says,
I bet they are going to claim [her husband] was abusive, controlling and dominating and that she was under his spell. But that is a really difficult defense. That is what Patty Hearst argued.
Whether or not a jury buys it as an extenuating circumstance, it seems likely that the deranged Garrido did abuse and control his wife. The question is, how did this abuse convince her to abuse someone else, holding her prisoner even when her husband wasn't around? In an essay in The Daily Beast, Linda Fairstein writes, somewhat unhelpfully, "Imagine the evil fueling that woman's mind-when she had a clear opportunity to release Jaycee-even if she also suffered abuse at Garrido's hands." Maura Dolan and Molly Hennessy-Fiske of the LA Times report, with a little more nuance, that,
Some female sexual abusers, known as "male-coerced" or "male-accompanied," engage in abuse after being introduced to it by a man, research shows. These women tend to suffer from low self-esteem, antisocial behavior, poor social and anger management skills, fear of rejection, passivity and other mental problems.
We know that women are just as capable of sexual abuse as men are. What we don't know is what made Nancy Garrido agree to marry a man she knew was a rapist, then helped him kidnap a young girl and raise the children he fathered with her. Most people who knew Phillip Garrido saw him as "creepy" — but for his wife, and for Jaycee Dugard, who says she "feels guilty [...] for not having called her mom or dad or anyone-even though she was captive," he seems to have held a kind of power.
The media is now interviewing every Dugard relative they can get their hands on, including Jaycee Dugard's birth father, who says, "I'd love to get my hands on Garrido and kill him. Actually, I wouldn't kill him - I'd hang him from that pole and he'd beg for death." And the Daily Mail is speculating, on what seems like very little evidence, that Dugard may have borne sons whom Garrido then killed. One thing is certain: Jaycee Dugard needs time to heal. Her stepfather Carl Probyn says, "This is going to take years of therapy." We hope she's getting the best.
Garrido's Wife 'Misses Children' [BBC]
Wife Of Phillip Garrido Largely A Mystery [LA Times]
Jaycee Lee Dugard's Father Vows To Kill The 'Sick Animal' Who Held Her Captive For 18 Years [Daily Mail]
Grandma: Jaycee Feels Guilty About Her Kidnapping [Newser]
The Predator's Partner [The Daily Beast]
Exclusive: Jaycee Lee Dugard's Aunt: "Terry And Jaycee Are Going Day To Day And Doing The Best They Can" [Radar]