They called him Creepy Phil.
Long before he became the prime suspect in the kidnapping of Jaycee Dugard, 29 – allegedly kept captive in a backyard shed for 18 years after being snatched from the street near her family’s home near Lake Tahoe – Phillip Garrido had a reputation for setting his neighbors in Antioch, Calif., on edge.
For starters, it was widely known that Garrido, 58, had been convicted of sexual assault. Says Justin Haines, 20, who has lived across the street from Garrrido for most of his life, I never saw any girls with him, but me and my friends looked him up on the Internet and found out he was listed under Megan’s Law as a sex offender.
One of the neighbors went over to confront him about it,” says Haines, “and he talked his way out of it, like he always did. He said that it was because his ex-wife hated him and accused him of raping her.
Garrido and his wife, Nancy, will face 28 felony counts in the kidnapping case, the El Dorado County, Calif., district attorney said Friday, according to CNN.
Garrido had religious-themed Internet blogs, on which he made grandiose claims about being one of God’s chosen messengers. He was always preaching at you about God,” says Haines, “But you know something is strange with a guy who has the only house on the block with bars on the windows.
Another young neighbor recalls a 2006 party thrown for her brother s high school graduation at which Garrido showed up uninvited. “Phil kept trying to call all the young girls over to him, says the neighbor. He kept doing inappropriate things. We told him to go home, and some of the guys escorted him back to his house and told him not to come back.
After that, says the neighbor, young women in the vicinity took care to avoid Garrido.
One house away from Garrido, a neighbor s caretaker remembers once calling the fire department to report that Garrido was burning something near a back fence in his yard – where it s alleged he had housed Dugard and the two daughters he allegedly fathered with her in hiding.
Garrido talked the neighbors out of checking the scene for themselves – he told them he was burning trash and had put out the fire – but came storming back at them after the fire department showed up. “He came here pounding on the front door and threatened me, says the caretaker.
I was so scared. He was crazy,” says the caretaker. “He told me I’d better never do that again. I couldn’t believe it. I’ve never been so frightened.”
• Reporting by Susan Young
• 1991: Jaycee is abducted by strangers in front of her stepfather