Kidnapped at 11, Woman Emerges After 18 Years
This is just a shocking, sad story. It just had to take place in my "neck of the woods". I can definitely see this being made into a movie on lifetime channel.
ANTIOCH, Calif. — A woman kidnapped as an 11-year-old in 1991 was reunited with her family on Thursday after police here arrested her alleged abductors and discovered a hidden compound where she had apparently been kept against her will for nearly two decades.
The woman, Jaycee Dugard, was dragged into a car on her way to the bus stop 18 years ago as her step-father watched helplessly from the family home in South Lake Tahoe, Calif. The police could find no trace of the car, or Ms. Dugard, a blonde haired, blue-eyed girl last seen wearing a pink windbreaker and pink stretch pants.
On Wednesday, the police arrested Phillip C. Garrido and his wife, Nancy, and charged them with Ms. Dugard’s abduction.
Mr. Garrido, a convicted sex offender who was on federal parole for a 1971 rape and kidnapping, was also charged with rape, lewd and lascivious acts, and sexual penetration with a child under 14. The police said that he had apparently fathered two girls now 11 and 15 with Ms. Dugard.
Ms. Dugard, now 29, and her two children had apparently lived since her abduction in a collection of ragged tents and primitive lean-tos secreted behind the Garridos’ home, a small ranch house in a ramshackle neighborhood in an unincorporated area outside Antioch, a Bay Area suburb of 100,000.
“None have ever gone to school, none have ever gone to a doctor, said Fred Kollar, the undersheriff for El Dorado County, in an afternoon press conference. “They were kept in complete isolation.”
The break in the case came on Tuesday afternoon when a University of California, Berkeley, police officer noticed Mr. Garrido trying to hand out religious literature on the campus and asked him for identification. A check of police data bases revealed that Mr. Garrido, 58, was on parole.
On Wednesday, Mr. Garrido was called to a parole office in Concord, about 35 miles east of San Francisco, for a meeting with his case officer. At that meeting, according to Mr. Kollar, Mr. Garrido brought the two children, as well as his wife and Ms. Dugard, who was using the pseudonym Allissa.
Mr. Kollar said the parole officer, who had visited the Garridos’ home on numerous occasions, never seen “Allissa” or the children and was suspicious. At some point in the interview on Wednesday, Ms. Dugard apparently told the parole agent her true identity, and both she and the Garridos’ revealed information known “only by the victim and kidnappers.” The Garridos’ were subsequently arrested and and will be arraigned on Friday.
Ms. Dugard’s mother, Terry Porbyn, was informed that her daughter was alive and apparently in good health on Wednesday, and flew to the Bay Area on Thursday morning to meet a child she had long feared was dead.
Ms. Dugard’s step-father, Carl Probyn, reacted with relief and withdetermination that Mr. and Ms. Garrido — and any accomplices — be punished.
“I want everyone prosecuted to the hilt,” Mr. Probyn told KCBS-AM.
While officials said that they were stunned by the secret compound, neighbors said they had long known that Mr. Garrido had tents and other structures behind his house. But they had no idea that children or Ms. Dugard were living there.
“I knew he was always strange,” said Diane Doty, whose back fence was adjacent to the compound. “But I never saw the girl.”
Another neighbor, Heather McQuaid-Glace, said children had long known to avoid Mr. Garrido — his registration as a sex offender was online and known among local parents — but that nothing had aroused suspicion that a crime might be ongoing next door.
“We never heard screaming, we never heard anyone crying for help,” she said.
On Thursday, agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other law enforcement agencies were combing over the compound.
In one tent, a small bouquet of yellow flowers was visible through a window. In front of another, a pair of pink pajama bottoms had been removed and laid out by agents, near an evidence tag. Several ragged lawn chairs were laid about as was a beleaguered couch, a well-used barbeque, and several parched garden plants. On one of the sheds, a heart-shaped wall hanging was mounted and painted with the word “Spring.”
Mr. Kollar said that the car believed to be used in the kidnapping had also been found in the secret back yard area, which he said was strategically arranged “to isolate the victims” with low-lying tents and trees planted around the area.
Ms. Doty’s 9-year-old granddaughter, Megan, said she had always found the area behind the fence “creepy,” but that she did not feel that way anymore.
“Finally,” Megan said, “I’m not scared anymore.”
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