Jaycee Lee Dugard, 29, was reunited with her family Thursday morning – 18 years after a sex offender abducted her as she walked to her school bus stop in South Lake Tahoe, Calif.
Her abductor enslaved her in a cluster of sheds in a “hidden backyard within a backyard,” raped her and had two children with her before he was arrested this week, police revealed at a news conference Thursday afternoon.
Officials say abductors Phillip Garrido, 58, and his wife Nancy Garrido, 54, of Antioch, CA, will be arraigned Friday on charges likely to include kidnapping, conspiracy, rape by force, lewd and lascivious acts with a minor and sexual penetration. Officials say Garrido has already admitted to the abduction.
Dugard, who was 11 years old when she was taken, appeared in good health. Dugard’s younger daughter is the same age that Dugard was when she was snatched as her stepfather watched in horror. Her older daughter is 15.
“None of the children have ever been to school, they’ve never been to a doctor … From what we could tell, they never had any outside contact,” El Dorado County Undersheriff Fred Kollar said. “Living in the backyard for 18 years does take its toll.”
Dugard and her mother, Terry Probyn, and her younger sister, Shana, were reunited Thursday morning in Concord, Calif.
The biggest mystery now is why, after so many years of successfully keeping Dugard in seclusion, Garrido took a series of peculiar steps that led to her recovery. Kollar says that Garrido recently took his two daughters with Dugard to the University of California, Berkeley, campus to distribute flyers.
Campus police ran a background check and learned that he was a registered sex offender (Garrido was on lifetime parole for an unrelated rape in 1971). When Garrido was called before his parole officer the next day, he brought along the two girls and a young woman he introduced as Allisa – who turned out to be Dugard.
“The diligent questioning and follow-up by the parolee’s agent of record led to Garrido revealing his kidnapping of the adult female,” the California corrections department said in a statement. “It was further revealed by Garrido that she was Jaycee Lee Dugard, and that the children were his.”
• 1991: Jaycee is abducted by strangers in front of her stepfather