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Kidnapped Girl Slept in Tents for 18 Years

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Jaycee Lee Dugard, who was 11 years old in 1991 when she was snatched from a Lake Tahoe street, has been found alive.

missing tahoe girl

58-year-old Phillip Garrido, the man suspected of taking young Jaycee and hiding her for nearly two decades in his backyard, is now behind bars.

When cops searched Garrido's home, they were stunned to find a secret hidden yard that housed the area where Jaycee was held captive behind a series of fences. When she was abducted, Jaycee was taken directly to the house and sheltered from the world in a secret, leafy backyard. Her abductor, investigators said, raped her and fathered two children with her, the first when Jaycee was about 14. Those girls, now 11 and 15, also were kept hidden away in the backyard compound behind the home.

Jaycee gave birth to her children in the compound, which is less than 200 miles from where she grew up. She and her two children lived in sheds and tents. Investigators said the three of them had not been to school, nor had they seen a doctor.

Dugard's mother was reunited with her daughter Thursday, and was introduced to her two grandchildren. Dugard's stepfather, Carl Probyn, told CBS's "Early Show" Friday morning that he spoke to his wife late Thursday after she reunited with her daughter and everyone was "doing great." "I think they're pretty happy," Probyn said. He said the most surprising thing to his wife was that Jaycee looks almost like she did when she was taken. "She looks very young, she looks very healthy," Probyn said. "She told me that Jaycee feels really guilty for bonding with this guy. She has a real guilt trip."

Garrido is being held for investigation of various kidnapping and sex charges. Authorities said his 54-year-old wife, Nancy Garrido, was with him during the kidnapping in South Lake Tahoe, and she also has been arrested.

Garrido, who was on parole, kept them so hidden that even a parole agent who visited Garrido's home didn't have an inkling about the hidden compound, El Dorado County Undersheriff Fred Kollar said. Garrido is a registered sex offender on federal parole for rape and kidnapping convictions.

In a news conference, Kollar said the girls "were kept in complete isolation in this compound. The way the house is set up, the way the backyard is set up, you could walk through the backyard, walk through the house, and never know." Kollar said Jaycee was in "good health, but living in a backyard for the past 18 years does take its toll." The backyard compound had electricity from extension cords and a rudimentary outhouse and shower, "as if you were camping."

But neighbors said there were clues even before a parole agent on Wednesday noticed Jaycee, now 29, who accompanied Garrido, his wife, and the children to a parole office.
Neighbor Diane Doty said she could see the tents and often heard children playing in the backyard, the corner of which abuts her own backyard. She said she even suspected the children lived in the tents, but her husband said she should leave the family alone. "I asked my husband, 'Why is he living in tents?"' she said. "And he said, 'Maybe that is how they like to live."'

Jaycee's stepfather, who witnessed her abduction and was a longtime suspect in the case, said he was overwhelmed by the news after doing everything he could to help find her. He told the Associated Press, "It broke my marriage up. I've gone through hell, I mean I'm a suspect up until yesterday."

The case broke after Garrido was spotted Tuesday with two children as he tried to enter the University of California, Berkeley, campus to hand out religious literature. Officers said he was acting suspiciously toward the children. They questioned him and did a background check, determined that he was a parolee, and informed his parole officer.

Garrido was ordered to appear for a parole meeting, and arrived Wednesday with Jaycee, who identified herself as "Allissa," his wife, and two children. During questioning, corrections officials said he admitted to kidnapping the girl. Police said they had no evidence that Jaycee had ever reached out to anyone beyond the compound walls.

People who knew Garrido said he became increasingly fanatic about his religious beliefs in recent years, sometimes breaking out into song and claiming that God spoke to him through a box. "In the last couple years, he started getting into this strange religious stuff. We kind of felt sorry for him," said Tim Allen, president of East County Glass and Window Inc. in Pittsburg, Calif., who bought business cards and letterhead from Garrido's printing business for the last decade. Three times in recent years, Garrido arrived at Allen's showroom with two "cute little blond girls" in tow, he said.

In addition to kidnapping allegations, court records showed both Garridos were being held for investigation of rape by force, lewd and lascivious acts with a minor, and kidnapping someone under 14 with intent to rape. Phillip Garrido also faces allegations of sexual penetration.

Garrido has a long rap sheet dating to the 1970s. He was convicted of kidnapping a 25-year-old woman, whom he snatched from a South Lake Tahoe parking lot and handcuffed, tied down, and held in a mini-warehouse in Reno. He also has a conviction for rape by force or fear stemming from the same incident, and was paroled from a Nevada state prison in 1988. In 1991, police believe he was trolling for victims in South Lake Tahoe when he took Jaycee from a bus stop outside her home. The case attracted national attention and was featured on TV's "America's Most Wanted."

The Associated Press contributed to this post.

21 comments so far | Post a comment now
Leopoldo Stadel April 3, 2011, 10:43 AM

As a Newbie, I am always browsing online for articles that can help me. Thank you

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