Jaycee Lee Dugard could have been freed three years ago: Police admit 2006 bungle as they search home for clues to prostitute murders
29th August 2009
Sex-slave Jaycee Lee Dugard and her daughters could have been freed three years ago, police have admitted.
The admission came as it emerged that detectives are searching the home of Phillip Garrido and his wife for clues in the unsolved slayings of several prostitutes, whose bodies were dumped near an industrial park where Mr Garrido worked during the 1990s.
Appearing at El Dorado Superior Court yesterday, the accused pair pleaded not guilty to 29 charges of kidnapping someone under 14, kidnapping for sexual purposes, forcible rape and forcible lewd acts on a child.
Police have admitted said a neighbour made an emergency call in 2006 to say that her captor was a 'psychotic' with a sex addiction and had children living in tents in his back garden in Antioch, California.
Officers went to the house but did not ask to see the garden. Instead they told Garrido, who had served a jail sentence for kidnap and rape, that local housing rules meant children could not camp out there.
It was a golden opportunity to free Jaycee, abducted in 1991 and finally released from her 'prison' in Garrido's garden only this week. In that time he fathered two children with her.
Sheriff Warren Rupf admitted: 'We should have been more inquisitive and turned over a rock or two. We are beating ourselves up over this and will continue to do so.'
Police said the officers sent to the property were not told about Garrido's previous sexual offences.
Jaycee herself said yesterday she felt guilty about bonding with Garrido, even though the alternative could have been her death. She poured out her torment in a tearful reunion with her mother Terry and the teenage stepsister who was only a baby when she disappeared.
Jaycee and her children, now 15 and 11, were kept in appalling conditions in a sound-proofed outbuilding hidden in Garrido's back garden.
But traumatised Jaycee still feels she is to blame, her stepfather Carl Probyn revealed. 'There is a real guilt trip here,' he said.
Her secret prison was a 10ft by 10ft shed, with a door that could only be opened from the outside, another shed and two tents.
Garrido was a registered sex offender after serving 11 years of a 50-year sentence for kidnapping and raping a 25-year-old woman in 1976.
Neighbours said they had alerted police about his strange behaviour at least three times and reported sightings of him with young girls.
Garrido, 58, gave a bizarre interview to a California TV station by telephone from jail yesterday, calling his victim's nightmare 'a heartwarming story'.
In an apparent reference to his sexual abuse of Jaycee - who gave birth to his first child when she was just 14 - Garrido confessed: 'It's a disgusting thing that took place with me at the beginning.'
But he went on to insist: 'It's a constructive story of turning a person's life around and having those two children, those two girls, they slept in my arms every single night from birth. Never did I harm them. I never touched them.'
People who knew Garrido, who lived with his wife Nancy and her elderly mother, said he became increasingly fanatical about his religious beliefs in recent years, sometimes breaking into song and claiming God spoke to him through a box.
'We kind of felt sorry for him,' said Tim Allen, a businessman who bought cards and letterheads from Garrido's printing business. 'He rambled. It made no sense.'
Neighbours described his wife Nancy, 55, as a 'robot' who would do anything her husband said.
Haydee Perry, 35, says she actually spoke to one of his daughters, who she estimates to have been 11, over the garden fence.
She said: 'She wasn't easy. It was as if she didn't want to talk to me. It was a weird situation. She was standing next to him. She would call him father, and stay real close to him.
'When she talked to me, she looked back at him as a confirmation that everything was OK. It wasn't normal.'
The emergency call to police came from Mrs Perry's boyfriend, Damon Robinson, who said he had been alarmed at how pale the girls were and that 'they didn't interact'.
'All the police had to do was look over the fence,' said Mr Robinson. 'Then that girl would have been back with her family, no doubt.'
Neighbour Diane Doty said she could see the tents and often heard children playing in the garden.
She said she even suspected they lived in the tents, but her husband said she should leave the family alone, saying: 'Maybe that is how they like to live.'
Parole officers visited Garrido regularly, and there were reports last night that a sex offenders task force even searched his house last year. But no-one found Jaycee.
She was finally freed because a campus guard at the University of California at Berkeley became suspicious of Garrido when he tried to give religious leaflets to students on Tuesday.
She checked his background and discovered he was a listed sex offender and on parole.
He was ordered to visit his parole officer the next day and arrived at the office in Concord, California, with his wife, the two girls - and a woman he called Allyssa.
The parole officer immediately became suspicious because he had never seen Allyssa or the girls in Garrido's home.
He called in police and officers quickly established that Allyssa was the girl they had been searching for since 1991.
She had been abducted near her home in South Lake Tahoe, 170 miles from Antioch.
It was the area where Garrido, then a 25-year-old musician with a five-year addiction to LSD, carried out his first kidnap.
He was jailed in 1977, but freed on lifelong parole in 1988. Garrido made little attempt to conceal his background.
Mrs Perry said: 'I talked to him one day, and he said he was in prison for 11 years back in the day, and that he had violated a woman.
'But he said he had found God and that he was a changed man, and not to be judgmental of people.'
Garrido has now been charged with rape, kidnapping, conspiracy and committing lewd acts with a minor.
His wife is accused of kidnapping and conspiracy, as well as rape.
Jaycee's stepfather Mr Probyn said last night his wife had told him Jaycee 'looks very young, almost like when she was kidnapped.'
Mr Probyn, who saw Jaycee being abducted by a couple in a car, was seen for years as a suspect and the stress caused his marriage to break down.
He said the family had been horrified to hear how Jaycee had been forced to live.
Last night Jaycee's stepsister wrote about the family meeting on her MySpace page.
She said: 'As of this moment we are just reuniting and everything is going well.
'She's only 29. She has the rest of her life to live and I have a lot of love to share with my sister and new nieces.
'In due time my mum will make statements and so will I if needed, but you have to understand this time is critical.'
Jaycee's natural father, Kenneth Slayton, split up with her mother before she was born and has never seen his daughter.
He is said to live in the Los Angeles area but was not available for comment last night.
The charge sheet:
The suspects in the 1991 abduction of an 11-year-old girl face 28 felony charges.
On Friday the El Dorado County District Attorney's Office filed 28 felony charges against Phillip and Nancy Garrido in the 1991 abduction, rape and imprisonment of Jaycee Dugard.
District Attorney Vern Pierson said the Garridos, if convicted, could face multiple life terms in prison.
The district attorney alleges the following charges against each suspect:
1 count each of kidnapping a person under age 14
1 count each of kidnapping for sexual purposes
2 counts each of forcible rape
7 counts each of a forcible lewd act upon a child, with special allegation of kidnapping for sex, victim under 14
4 counts each of forcible rape with a special allegation of one strike, tier two
1 count each of false imprisonment by violence with special allegations of violent sex offenses, use of force, victim is stranger, substantial sexual conduct with victim under 14
...and, against Phillip Garrido only, a special allegation of 2/3 strikes (two priors for forcible rape and kidnapping)
Inside the prison in the backyard:
With its white picket fence, wooden shutters and neat front lawn, it is hard to believe the dark secrets that lay behind the front door of the Garrido family home for almost two decades.
No 1554 Walnut Avenue in the California town of Antioch seamlessly matches its surroundings with a collection of ramshackle outbuildings on land to the rear.
Far from being an isolated, rural property, it is sandwiched between homes on all sides and less than an hour's drive from San Francisco.
While thick trees and bushes block two sides, neighbours on one side could have peered easily over - or through - the tumbledown wooden fencing.
Had they done so they would have seen the 80ft garden sectioned off into three parts. The rear two are believed to be the secret compound where Jaycee and her daughters were held in a collection of tents and structures.
In one tent, a bouquet of yellow flowers was visible yesterday. In front of another, a pair of children's pink pyjama bottoms had been laid out by federal agents.
There were several ragged lawn chairs, a couch, a well-used barbecue and several parched garden plants. On one shed, a heart-shaped wall hanging was painted with the word 'spring.'
According to police, the dusty old car Garrido used to abduct Jaycee 18 years ago had been placed to block her view and was not visible from the road. In the last third of the land, an empty plastic swimming pool covered in leaves and dirt sat in one corner.
Close by was a set of swings and a plastic yellow slide next to a white chair. Further evidence of the presence of children was a trampoline with a teddy bear lying on top.
Home for Jaycee and her two daughters was two sheds which could be opened only from the outside - one a sound-proofed white building in the garden's middle section.
The other, a dilapidated construction with a patched wooden roof, was discovered at the far end of the garden, partly hidden by trees.
Adjoining it - and enclosed by blue tarpaulin - is a rudimentary shower and lavatory.
FBI and police investigators yesterday covered large areas of the garden with plastic sheeting as they began picking through the extraordinary crime scene.
Meanwhile neighbours in the working-class community - which has one of the highest repossession rates in the U.S. - appeared to have noticed little that gave them cause for concern over the years.
They were aware Garrido was a convicted sex offender and gave him a wide berth.
None could recall seeing anyone fitting Jaycee's description although some did admit seeing glimpses of her two girls.
Sam Martinez, 21, who lived across the road from Garrido for a year, said: 'I saw the girls once or twice. They had blonde hair. I didn't really think about who they might be. I only saw them come out to get into his windowless van. Apart from that it seemed they were always inside. I thought he was creepy, but I could never have guessed what was going on.'
Heather McQuaid-Glace, 37, said: 'People knew about his background but we never saw anything suspicious at the house.
'We never heard screaming, we never heard anyone crying for help. There was nothing to give cause for alarm.'
Natascha, Elisabeth and the lessons to be learned
Allan Hall looks into the recent spate of kidnappings and forced captivity for sexual gratification
How can any victim recover from having 18 years of her life stolen by a monster?
Two intriguing precedents offer a compelling insight into the months that lie ahead for Jaycee Lee Dugard and her two daughters.
There is Natascha Kampusch, the Austrian girl in the cellar who also had her life stolen when she was just a child. And we will never forget Elisabeth Fritzl - another Austrian - held captive by her own father and forced to bear his children.
These two cases, which I studied in detail for books I wrote about both crimes, have a great deal to tell us about the future for the American captives.
First, while Jaycee's freedom is a cause for great celebration, she will be a prisoner of her tormentor for many years to come.
It will be the task of the psychiatrists, navigating the minefield of her and her daughters' abused psyches, to try to bring some normality into their shattered lives.
This has been the goal of the doctors charged with caring for Natascha, and for Elisabeth and the six children she bore to her twisted father.
Perhaps surprisingly, Natascha, who was held captive for eight years, is much more damaged by her ordeal than Elisabeth Fritzl is by hers.
Kidnapped at the age of ten by loner Wolfgang Priklopil on Monday March 2, 1998 as she trudged to school, Natascha was sealed up in a cellar and became the possession of a man who could not have normal relationships with women.
Unlike a paedophile who desires only sexual gratification, Priklopil's obsession was to make Natascha love him. And in a bizarre way, she did, even after he took his life by jumping in front of a train.
To this day, she carries his photograph around in her handbag, lives at weekends in the house where she was a captive, and spends hours cleaning the cellar where she was held. Recently, she even bought her kidnapper's car, which he was cleaning on the day she escaped after eight-and-a-half years.
I spoke to one of her carers, who told me how damaged Natascha was by her ordeal. 'She did not go through the normal developmental phases like everyone else. She had no puberty or adolescence and, more importantly, she had no chance of interaction with others. 'She is still a fragile young woman who has endured an ordeal that none of us can even comprehend.'
Doctors are still trying to break her Stockholm Syndrome - the binding of captive to captor - which held Natascha in such thrall in the months following her freedom. They have not been entirely successful.
For the cellar remains a magnet for her, a place of sanctuary where she felt safe - before her captivity she lived in a lonely flat with a mother who was rarely there.
Which brings us to the Fritzls; truly a family who have travelled through the harshest psychological wilderness.
Elisabeth Fritzl was hauled into a cellar by her father Josef in August 1984. She endured 24 years of captivity and 3,000 rapes.
After regaining her freedom, Elisabeth had first to be taught self-respect and that what occurred was not her fault. Purging sex-crime victims of this destructive self-loathing is paramount.
She and the three children who spent their entire lives underground with her had to learn to cope with the panic attacks, the sudden anxiety which in a heartbeat placed her back in that concrete dungeon.
Dealing with the disorientation, shock, anger, guilt and sadness has been excruciatingly slow.
But Elisabeth has broken with a demonic past in the way that Natascha Kampusch has not. The doctors are delighted with her progress - not least because she has fallen in love. One of her bodyguards assigned to protect her in the frenzy which followed her freedom is now her partner.
As Elisabeth and her new relationship have proved, redemption IS possible.