America's Fritzl? No, Philip Garrido is Charles Manson Mark Two
29th August 2009
He is being called the American Fritzl - and given the remarkable similarities between their sickening crimes, the comparison with Austria's arch sex-kidnapper is inevitable.
However, with his dark, remorseless eyes, skeletal features, receding hairline and thin lips, Phillip Garrido resembles an altogether different type of monster: the mass murderer Charles Manson.
Certainly, that's what's his own brother believes. Ron Garrido compares Phillip's hold over his wife Nancy to Manson's psychological control of his notorious Family.
'I told my wife, it's no different to Manson and those girls,' said Ron, 65, a retired electrician. 'She was under his spell - a robot. It just seems so bizarre. Crazy, crazy, crazy.'
Quite so. But listening to Garrido's deluded attempts to justify Jaycee's abduction during a rambling radio interview from his prison cell yesterday, and examining his bizarre internet blog, it becomes clear that the likeness to Manson is more than physical.
Just like the twisted Californian cult leader, he is a dangerously self-absorbed narcissist. And, as with the demented Manson, he is at pains to convince us that he possesses supernatural gifts and uses risible, quasi-religious mumbo-jumbo to mask his depravity.
Inside Jaycee Lee Dugard's prison in the back yard: The soundproof shed that hid the secret kidnap girl
Garrido calls his ludicrous blog Voices Revealed, and on it he purports to be able 'speak in the tongue of angels'. He also claims to be able to 'control sound with my mind', and to have invented a device through which to channel it.
He even depicts himself as some sort of messiah, and urges readers to follow him.
At the time of his arrest, it would seem that no one had been gullible enough to do so. Instead, the website has been turned into a bulletin board for outraged Americans to vent their disgust. 'Rot in hell,' one message read, summing up the national mood.
But the question asked by millions of ordinary Americans this weekend is more prosaic: who is Garrido, and what possessed him to snatch a little-girl from the school bus-stop, shut her away for his sexual fulfilment for 18 years, and father her two children?
Last night, the answers were starting to emerge. Phillip Craig Garrido was born on April 4, 1951, the child of Manuel and Pat Garrido, and raised in Contra Costa County, the San Francisco Bay area of northern California. By all accounts he was of reasonable intelligence, and graduated from Liberty Union High School in 1969.
He was an impressive-looking young man, athletically built and 6ft 4in, and appears to have little trouble attracting girls.
In 1973, he married his childhood sweetheart, Christine Perreira (now Watson). Contacted yesterday in the Mid West, where she lives with her new husband, she recalled how he had attempted to forge a career as a musician, but descended into drug abuse.
According to brother Ron, Phillip fled to Reno, Nevada, after learning that fellow-drug dealers 'had a contract out on him'.
In November 1976, Garrido claimed the first victim of his deviant sexual desires. She was a 25-year-old casino worker collecting groceries in the waterfront resort of South Lake Tahoe.
Garrido, then aged 25, tapped on her car window and told her his vehicle had broken down. He was sufficiently convincing for her to offer him a lift. A court later heard how he handcuffed the terrified young woman, taped her mouth, and drove her to his secret lair in Reno - a warehouse which he had converted into his private lair.
There she was held for several hours whilst he raped and sexually assaulted her. When police raided the storage unit, they found multi-coloured rugs covering the floors and walls, a stack of hard- core pornographic magazines, various sex aids and a spotlight to illuminate his perverted activities.
Perhaps this was an early prototype of the hideout where Garrido kept Jaycee, and who knows how many more victims he had imprisoned there for his gratification?
At all events, another woman came forward to tell police that he had tried to kidnap her before hijacking the casino worker.
Garrido's defence lawyer blamed his crimes on a five-year addiction to LSD. He was sentenced to 50 years in a federal penitentiary and five more in a state prison, but served only 11 years before being released in 1988.
Three years into his sentence, Christine divorced him but he married again, to a Jehovah's Witness who was the niece of another prisoner.
The ceremony was held behind prison walls in Leavenworth penitentiary, Kansas. The bride was Nancy Garrido, the lankhaired, wretched-looking woman who was arrested with him, and must surely have been complicit in Jaycee's kidnap, at the very least.
His neighbours in the San Francisco dormer town of Antioch, where he and Nancy settled after he was freed for jail, also knew about his past, for he did little to conceal it. Garrido, his wife and her elderly mother lived in a quiet, residential area of the town, in a grey ranch-style house surrounded - very conveniently, as we now know - by thick, overgrown shrubbery and piles of rubbish.
As a legal requirement, Garrido was placed on the sexual offenders' register for life after being released from prison. This meant that he was required to keep regular meetings with a parole officer and have his movements followed via a satellite tag.
In recent years, however, he had been placed on 'passive monitoring', so the GPS tracking system was not activated.
Even last July, when his house was searched by a multi-agency task force as part of the sexual offenders' compliance programme, the system lamentably failed.
"There were zero signs of kids living there,' a local policewoman said. Perhaps now, too late, we will find out why.
At all events, Garrido's claims to have found God and become a reformed character barely stand up to scrutiny.
Only last year, police investigated claims that he preyed upon 79-year-old Dilbert Medieros, swindling him out of his £12,000 life savings.
Garrido regularly collected the pensioner from his old folk's residence and took him on outings. Mr Medieros complained he tricked him into handing over his nest-egg after saying that he needed the money to start his own church.
Predictably, Garrido denied this, insisting that his 'friend' had willingly donated the cash, and it was decided that there was insufficient evidence to bring a case against him.
Had he not become emboldened in recent days, taking his secret daughters out with him to distribute religious leaflets on a university campus, his run of luck might well have continued for many more years.
Now, thankfully, this unspeakable man has been locked away. Like evil Charlie Manson, he will doubtless spend the rest of his life ranting about his 'unearthly powers' from a prison cell.