"They thought Jaycee was their sister," their step-grandfather tells PEOPLE. "This will take years of therapy"

By Howard Breuer
Updated September 01, 2009 04:10 PM
Nick Ut/AP; El Dorado County Sheriffs Office/Reuters/AP

It would seem like more than two girls could bear: The man they called “daddy” turns out to be a registered sex offender thrown in jail, and now they’ve been told the woman they thought was their big sister is really their mother.

This is what Angel, 11, and Starlit, 15, have faced since the arrest last week of Phillip Garrido, charged with the 1991 abduction of Jaycee Dugard, now 29.

“They thought Jaycee was their sister,” Dugard’s stepfather, Carl Probyn, tells PEOPLE. “People have to realize this will take years of therapy.”

Still, there have been encouraging signs the healing has begun. Dugard’s reunion with her mother, Terry Probyn, has been “the happiest time of her life, and they are bonding,” says Carl, who split with his wife amid the stress of his stepdaughter’s kidnapping (Carl was briefly treated as a suspect, then cleared).

Carl Probyn says what the girls and Jaycee need now is to avoid the media. To that end, they’re not only turning down interviews and TV shows, he says, but they’re not returning with Terry to Riverside, Calif., because the family doesn’t want the girls to be seen by paparazzi.

The family members were in a Concord hotel for a few days, but checked out when paparazzi went looking for them, and they are now in an undisclosed house that’s under guard by the FBI, Carl tells PEOPLE.

He says it’s unclear what the family’s costs will be over the next few years. Jaycee hasn’t been to school since she was 11, and her daughters have never been to school. They also need lots of counseling. The cost of all this, he says, is anyone’s guess.

“This has never happened in history – for someone to be recovered 18 years after an abduction,” says Carl Probyn.

In response to offers of assistance, two trust funds for the girls have been set up at a financial services company where Jaycee’s grandmother worked.