In the early morning hours of June 10, 1991, 11 year old Jaycee Lee Dugard was walking to the school bus stop in South Lake Tahoe when Philip and Nancy Garrido abducted her and imprisoned her for 18 years in the back yard of their Antioch California home. The only clues came from the sole eye witness to the kidnapping, Carl Probyn – Jaycee’s step father, who provided information on the car and one of the occupants.
The community of South Lake Tahoe was in a state of shock. Law enforcement, Federal, State and Local swarmed to the area to help look for Jaycee and her abductors. Flyers blanketed the area. Neighborhoods were canvassed and residents interviewed. Thousands of tips and alleged sightings flooded in. Many South Lake Tahoe parents and children were frightened that it might happen to them. Search dogs and teams spread out over the region. But, other than the two photos above, there were no leads. Jaycee appeared to have been kidnapped without a trace.
Unfortunately, the intense microscope and investigation in the case never reached the bay area – never focused on sexual predator and parolee Phillip Garrido who had previously kidnapped and sexually assaulted multiple women in the South Lake Tahoe area.
From what we know now, Phillip and Nancy Garrido drove straight from South Lake Tahoe to their home in Antioch.
Once there, Jaycee was kept in one of the backyard buildings, a makeshift recording studio, as a prisoner for 1 ½ years and did not even leave the backyard for the first 4 years after her abduction by the Defendants. During her 18 years of captivity, Jaycee was sexually assaulted by Phillip Garrido, which resulted in two pregnancies. Jaycee was impregnated when she was 13 years old and had her first child at the age of 14 and her second child when she was 17.
Phillip and Nancy Garrido created an elaborate plan to keep her hidden. Part of that plan created by the Defendants included: A hidden backyard to conceal her; giving Jaycee the name “Alyssa”; requiring Jaycee and her daughters to run to the hidden backyard if anyone ever came to the door; and, a cover story where, if questioned, Jaycee was instructed to tell people that the girls were hers and that she was okay with them being around Phillip Garrido; and most importantly, a plan that if Phillip Garrido was ever arrested that Jaycee was to request an attorney so that his attorney and her attorney could communicate without law enforcement knowledge.
During her imprisonment, Jaycee kept a journal, which heartbreakingly explains some of her feelings. In September 2003, she writes “I don’t want to hurt him…sometimes I think my very presence hurts him…. so how can I ever tell him how I want to be free. Free to come and go as I please. … Free to say I have a family. I will never cause him pain if it’s in my power to prevent it. FREE.” (Emphasis in original, and previously noted in February 2010 Court documents) On July 5, 2004, Jaycee writes “It feels like I’m sinking. I’m afraid I want control of my life…this is supposed to be my life to do with what I like…but once again he has taken it away. How many times is he allowed to take it away from me? I am afraid he doesn’t see how the things he says makes me a prisoner….Why don’t I have control of my life! I feel I can’t even be sure my thoughts are my own...” (Emphasis in original and previously noted in February 2010 Court documents).
Unfortunately, for 18 years, law enforcement was unable to find Jaycee. The 18 year long nightmare for Jaycee and her mother Terry Probyn finally came to an end on August 26, 2009 when she was discovered due to the instincts of two U.C. Berkeley Campus Officers.
The fact that they saw something unusual, and then said something to Phillip Garrido’s parole agent allowed this nightmare to come to an end. And, is a reminder to us all . . . if you see something, say something.
Part 2 in this series will focus on Phillip Garrido and how he was a prolific sexual predator and master manipulator.
Part 3 in this series will focus on the discovery of Jaycee Dugard and the criminal case.
Part 4 in this series will focus on unanswered questions and lessons learned about the case and investigation.