The Kidnapping of Jaycee Lee Dugard

She was held for 18 years by a paroled sex offender

Jaycee Lee Dugard
Phillip Garrido and his wife shortly after their arrest on August 27, 2009 in Placerville, California. Phillip Garrido, a convicted rapist, and his wife Nancy reportedly admitted to kidnapping Jaycee Lee Dugard in 1991 when she was 11 and holding her captive for the past 18 years. Garrido reportedly raped her for years and fathered two children with her. Credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

For years, she had smiled from her FBI missing child poster, one of those children who had been gone so long that no one expected them ever to be found alive. But Jaycee Lee Dugard turned up on Aug. 27, 2009, at a California police station 18 years after being abducted.

According to authorities, Dugard was held in captivity all that time by a convicted sex offender who kept her in his backyard compound, sheltered in tents, sheds, and outbuildings in Antioch, California. Police arrested 58-year-old Phillip Garrido, who they said kept Dugard as a virtual slave and fathered two children by her. The children were ages 11 and 15 when Dugard resurfaced.

Kidnapping, Rape Charges Filed

Garrido and his wife, Nancy, were charged with conspiracy and kidnapping. Garrido was also charged with rape by force, lewd and lascivious acts with a minor, and sexual penetration. He was on parole from a Nevada state prison following a conviction of rape by force or fear. He was paroled in 1999.

Dugard's ordeal neared its end when California parole officials received a report that Garrido had been seen with two young children. They called him in for questioning but sent him home with instructions to return the following day.

The next day, Garrido returned with his wife; Dugard, who was going by the name "Allissa"; and the two children. The investigators separated Garrido from the group so that they could interview Dugard. During the interview, she attempted to protect Garrido when investigators asked if she knew that he was a sex offender. As the interview continued, Dugard became visibly agitated and made up a story about being an abused wife hiding from her husband in the Garrido home.

As the interviews became more intensive, Dugard began to show signs of Stockholm Syndrome, in which a captive held long enough develops positive feelings for the captor. She became angry, demanding to know why she was being interrogated. Finally, Garrido broke down and told investigators he had kidnapped and raped Dugard. Only after his confession did she reveal her true identity. El Dorado County Undersheriff Fred Kollar said:

"None of the children have ever been to school, they've never been to a doctor. They were kept in complete isolation in this compound, if you will. There was electricity from electrical cords, rudimentary outhouse, rudimentary shower, as if you were camping."

It was here that Dugard had given birth to her two children.

Reunited With Mother

Authorities said Dugard appeared to be in good health when she arrived at a San Francisco Bay Area police station to be reunited with her mother, who was "overjoyed" to find her daughter alive.

Also welcoming the news was Dugard's stepfather, Carl Probyn, the last person to see her before she disappeared and a longtime suspect in the case. "It broke my marriage up. I've gone through hell; I mean I'm a suspect up until yesterday," Probyn told The Associated Press at his home in Orange, California.

Backyard Compound

Investigators searched the home and property where Dugard had been held captive, expanding their search to an adjacent property looking for clues in other missing persons cases.

Behind the Garrido home, investigators found what looked like a tented compound where Dugard and her children had lived. Inside they found a rug spread out with a bed on it. On the bed were several piles of clothing and boxes. Another tented area contained clothing, pictures, books, plastic storage containers, and toys. There were no modern conveniences except electrical lighting.

According to court papers, Garrido had stopped having sex with Dugard around the time that she gave birth to her second child. Afterward, all five "held themselves out to be a family," taking vacations and running a family business together.

Mixed Emotions

Phillip and Nancy Garrido pleaded not guilty to 29 counts, including forcible abduction, rape, and false imprisonment.

When the Garridos were arrested, Dugard experienced mixed emotions. With counseling and medical care, she began to understand the terrible things that were done to her. Her attorney, McGregor Scott, said she was fully cooperating with the investigation because she understood that the Garridos needed to be held accountable for their crimes.

$20 Million Settlement

In February 2010, Dugard and her daughters, then 15 and 12, filed claims against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, claiming the agency failed to do its job of properly supervising Garrido, who was supposed to be under parole supervision during much of the time he held Dugard captive. Parole officers never discovered Dugard and her daughters during the 10 years Garrido was under supervision. The lawsuit also claimed psychological, physical, and emotional damage.

That July, the state offered Dugard a $20 million settlement mediated by retired San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Daniel Weinstein. "The money will be used to buy the family a home, ensure privacy, pay for education, replace lost income. and cover what will likely be years of therapy," Weinstein told reporters.

Guilty Pleas

On April 28, 2011, the Garridos pleaded guilty to kidnapping and rape, sparing Dugard and her daughters from testifying at trial. On June 3, Phillip Garridos received a sentence of 431 years to life; Nancy Garridos was sentenced to 36 years to life. They made no eye contact with anyone and kept their heads down as Dugard's mother, Terry Probyn, read a statement from her daughter:

"I chose not to be here today because I refuse to waste another second of my life in your presence...Everything you have ever done to me has been wrong and someday I hope you can see that...[A]s I think of all of those years I am angry because you stole my life and that of my family. Thankfully I am doing well now and no longer live in a nightmare."

Nancy Garrido is imprisoned at the California Institution for Women in Corona, California. Phillip Garrido's institution wasn't available in August 2019.

Sources