Investigators are now searching through the labyrinthine home of Philip Garrido, the convicted rapist accused of kidnapping and imprisoning Jaycee Dugard in his backyard for 18 years, for evidence connecting him to the deaths of ten women in Northern California.
According to the New York Times, police are eying Garrido as a possible suspect in the murders of nine women between 1998-2002. The women, who worked as prostitutes, were all found "in industrialized areas of the cities of Pittsburg and Bay Point, which are near Antioch," the city where Garrido currently lives. Capt. Dan Terry of the Contra Costa County sheriff's office tells the San Francisco Chronicle that "Pittsburg police, for whatever reason, decided [Garrido] was a person of interest," perhaps because many of the bodies were found near an industrial park where Garrido used to work.
Meanwhile, Contra Costa County Sheriff Warren Rupf is admitting that his department completely bungled the operation, missing an opportunity to rescue Jaycee and her two daughters in 2006, after a concerned neighbor called 911 to let authorities know that people, including children, were living in tents behind Garrido's house. The responding officer, Rupf admits, didn't properly check the yard, letting Garrido's bizarre imprisonment of Dugard continue for another three years.
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this case (and there are many, many disturbing aspects to this case) is the fact that Garrido was able to carry out this insane and elaborate lie for 18 years. The Times is reporting that Jaycee was able to interact with some of her captor's printing business customers, and the Daily Mail is reporting that neighbors notified authorities three times regarding Garrido's tents and the fact that he was seen with young girls, and yet nothing was done, despite the fact that Garrido is a registered sex offender with a record of rape and kidnapping.
But not all of Garrido's neighbors seemed to be on high alert, despite his strange behavior: "People knew about his background but we never saw anything suspicious at the house," neighbor Heather McQuaid-Glace tells the Daily Mail, "We never heard screaming, we never heard anyone crying for help. There was nothing to give cause for alarm." Officer Ally Jacobs, who ran the background check on Garrido that eventually led to his arrest, disagrees, noting that her concerns about Garrido's eccentric behavior, as well as the "robotic" behavior of his daughters, led her to seek more information on Garrido:
Officer Rupf, attempting to cover his own department's incompetence, praised Jacobs and Campbell for their "world class" work in cracking the case. But is it really "world class" police work to trust your instinct and run a background check when something seems amiss? Or is it just competence, vigilance, and being thorough in making sure that the citizens you've sworn to protect are, in fact, protected? If Garrido does turn out to be the killer of ten women, Rupf and his department will have even more to apologize for, and saying sorry simply will not be enough.
Jaycee Lee Dugard Could Have Been Freed Three Years Ago [Daily Mail]
New Garrido Search: Prostitute Killings[San Francisco Chronicle]
Kidnapping Victim Was Not Always Locked Away[NYTimes]
Kidnap Beast Is Eyed In 10 Slays [NYPost]