The kidnapping of Jaycee Dugard is a story that captivated the nation in the early 1990’s. Then, all of a sudden, and much like Jaycee herself, the story faded away. No one knew what had become of the poor five-year-old and the world gave up looking for her.
Meanwhile, Jaycee Dugard was living a new life as the captive of a drug-addled, convicted sex offender and his maniacal, bipolar wife. In 2009, Jaycee was found and returned to her true family, but the scars of her captivity and the many missed opportunities authorities had to save her, still haunt her to this day…
A Safer Place
In 1979, Terry Dugard and her then-husband, Ken Slayton had gotten divorced. What Ken didn’t know, and wouldn’t know for another 29 years, was that Terry had been pregnant with their daughter, Jaycee. Terry remarried soon after and in 1990, moved her family from Arcadia, California to the rural town of South Lake Tahoe, because they thought it would be a safer community to raise a family.
Jaycee was a shy fifth grader, who was very close to her mother. As always, Jaycee was worried about an upcoming field trip and was trying to just push through it so she could be with her friends and not be nervous. On June 10, 1991, Jaycee’s mother left for work early in the day. This left Jaycee alone to walk up the hill from her house to catch the school bus…
Before she had even gotten halfway up the hill, Jaycee was approached by a man in a car asking for directions. He rolled down the window and before she could even do anything, he shocked her unconscious with a stun gun. Phillip Garrido and his wife Nancy had abducted Jaycee. For three hours, the girl drifted in and out of unconsciousness.
Some of Jaycee’s classmates had seen what happened to her but were unable to help. Thankfully, Carl Probyn, Jaycee’s stepfather, had also witnessed the abduction of his stepdaughter from within sight of their home. He saw two people in mid-sized gray car shove his stepdaughter into the back seat. Carl jumped on his bike and gave chase but was unable to catch up to the fleeing vehicle. Jaycee was gone…
A New Home
The Garridos arrived at their home in Antioch, removed Jaycees clothing and forced her to take a shower with Phillip. They snuck her onto the property, a blanket on her head, and ushered her into a soundproof shed in the back of the property. Phillip then proceeded to abuse the girl sexually for over an hour. Afterward, she left her naked in the locked shed, warning her that trained Doberman’s were outside and ready to attack if she tried to escape.
Hard Days Ahead
For the next week of her incarceration, Jaycee was forced to wear handcuffs. At this time, and during the first week Phillip would be her only contact, and would often visit her in the structure, bringing her food and milkshakes. He brought her fast food and told her entertaining stories but would not allow her to watch television. She had no idea that everyone was looking for her…
A month and a half after her kidnapping, Jaycee was moved to a larger, more comfortable room in the shed next door. She was still handcuffed as course, this time to a bed. In this room, Garrido would explain his warped beliefs. He would tell Jaycee that a group of “demon angels” had allowed him to take her and help him with his sexual problems.
Phillip was also addicted to methamphetamine and would frequently go on binges, which he called “runs”. When he was deep in one of his runs, he would dress Jaycee up and make her cut out pictures from pornographic magazines. Then he would bid her to listen to the voices he heard in the walls. By the time it was all over, he would end up sobbing and crying at the foot of her bed. Finally, his wife came into the picture…
This is Nancy
About seven months into her captivity, Phillip introduced Dugard to his wife, Nancy. Her first interaction with the strange woman was fairly pleasant, she brought her a stuffed animal, some chocolate milk, and even exchanged some tearful apologies with her regarding the abduction and her husband’s behavior. In time Jaycee would come to crave Nancy’s approval. This was the plan all along.
As the years in captivity dragged on, Nancy, a nursing home aid, alternated between motherly concern and cold cruelty. She was clearly jealous of Jaycee and blamed her for the whole predicament. When Philip was sent back to prison for a failed drug test, Nancy became Jaycee’s full-time jailer. Soon, things would become even more complicated with the arrival of Jaycee’s children…
In June 2002, the fire department responded to a report at the Garridos’ home. Apparently, a juvenile had injured her shoulder in the couples’ swimming pool. Despite it being a term of his parole, information on the response was not relayed to Phillip’s parole office; which, incidentally had no record of a swimming pool or any children living at the Garrido’s address. of a juvenile with a shoulder injury that occurred in a swimming pool at the Garrido home.
An even earlier incident occurred on April 22, 1992. Apparently, a man had seen Jaycee staring intently at a missing child poster of herself at a gas station, less than two miles from the Garridos’ home. He told police that the girl and her “parents” had driven off in a large yellow van. Because the license plate hadn’t been identified on the call and the van and the caller were gone when they arrived, the police never followed up….
On April 3, 1994, they gave her a home-cooked meal for the first time. It was Easter Sunday and it was apparently a special occasion: Jaycee was four and a half months pregnant. She gave birth to her first daughter on August 18, 1994, and her second daughter on November 13, 1997. She took care of her daughters and taught them by means of the television. She even worked to protect them from their manic and violent captor Phillip.
All the while, the police had failed to locate the kidnapped girl and there were a number of obvious and glaring errors on their part. They failed to make the connection that Jaycee Lee Dugard had been kidnapped in South Lake Tahoe: the very same place where Phillip’s had raped and kidnapped Katherine Callaway Hall, in 1976. And that wasn’t the only mistake…
Tents in the Yard
Another incident took place in 2006 when one of Phillip’s neighbors called 9-1-1 to inform them that there were tents in the maniacs’ backyard. They explained that there were children living back there, in the yard of a psychotic individual with a sex addiction. The police arrived and spoke to Phillip at the front of the house for 30 minutes, informing them that there would be a code violation if anyone was living outside the property. They never checked the back yard.
Perhaps the most glaring oversights in the case involved Garrido himself, who was incorrectly classified from the get-go as only needing low-level supervision. There were even reports of inspectors coming to Garrido’s home and encountering a 12-year old girl there, whom Philip explained was his brother’s daughter. Despite Philip’s history, the agent did nothing to verify this. Then one day, Jaycee’s luck changed…
Search the House
At one point in 2009, two parole agents drove to the Garridos’ house, handcuffed Philip and searched the home. Inside, they only found his wife Nancy and his elderly mother. On the way back to the parole office, however, Garrido said something that made them turn around. He had left the area to visit UC Berkeley and had been in the presence of some young girls. He tried to say that the girls were the daughters of relatives, but something didn’t feel right.
The next day, Philip and the girls were told to report to the parole office. Although she assured them that her name was “Allissa” and that Garrido, despite being a convicted sex offender, was a changed man. She became agitated and defensive as the questions continued until finally, she could take no more. Stockholm Syndrome aside, she had to come clean. The police now knew the truth…
Phillip and his wife Nancy were arrested by police for kidnapping, imprisonment, and many other charges. On April 28, 2011, they pleaded guilty and were sentenced that very June. It was too late for them to avoid the law anymore. Phillip Garrido was sentenced to 431 years to life imprisonment. Nancy Garrido received 36 years to life.
For 18 years, Jaycee and her 11 and 15-year-old daughters, had been the prisoners of the demented couple. Now they were finally free. Luckily, all of them were safe and healthy by the time they became reunited with Jaycee’s real family. In 2011, she wrote a book documenting her time in captivity that became a bestseller.