In June, 1991, 11-year-old Jaycee Lee Dugard was walking towards her school bus stop. Her step-father was watching her walk up the street to be sure that she was safe, and there were even some peers from her school walking along too. Even so, she was not safe at all. Jaycee Lee was snatched up by a couple in a white van, and though the police were called immediately, not a single trace could be found of where the girl had been taken.
Her family did not forget about her, and continued to campaign for help in finding her. Unlike in other missing persons’ cases, they knew first hand that she had been taken. She had not gotten lost or run away by herself – a third party had snatched her and taken her away. So, where was she? As time went by it began to seem like the case would never be solved. But then, almost 18 years later, a miracle happened. Jaycee Lee was found and rescued, finally liberated from her captors. Phillip and Nancy Garrido were arrested, and Jaycee Lee was reunited with her family at last.
The shocking details of what had happened to that 11-year-old girl, now a 28-year-old woman, would captivate the world in 2009 when she was liberated, and again through 2011 as the court case of her abductors dragged on. The many twists and turns of this case are intriguing, if not shocking. Read on for the 15 most chilling facts about the brutal and heartless attack on a little girl which lasted long into her adulthood.
15. They Stole Her Name
One of the most awful things about the case was how her kidnappers tried to take Jaycee Lee’s identity from her along with everything else. When she was captive they gave her two kittens to play with, and allowed her to write a journal about the cats. But then they discovered that she was writing her real name to sign off each entry. They forced her to tear out the pages with her name on and forbade her from saying or writing her name for years, instead using pseudonyms which concealed her identity. This continued even later when she was allowed more access to the outside world, as they wanted her to pretend to be someone else to avoid being recognized. When you have been taken away from everyone and everything you care about and forced to live in appalling conditions, hanging on to your identity is hard enough. But having your name taken away from you too is a step even further that must have made it very difficult for her.
14. She Bore Two Daughters Without Medical Help
It’s shocking to discover that Jaycee Lee was abused almost on a daily basis throughout her whole time with the Garridos, and even more shocking to discover that she became pregnant twice, carrying both babies to term. They denied her access to medical care for fear that her identity would be discovered, but did allow her to watch television. She watched everything she could about childbirth, looking after babies, and home-schooling children so that she could be prepared for when her children were born. She ended up bearing two daughters, one at age 14 and one at age 17. Her eldest daughter was called Shayna. After a time, Nancy grew jealous of the girls, and Phillip decided that they should all pretend that Nancy was their mother and Jaycee Lee was their older sister. They were forced to carry on this charade until Jaycee Lee and her daughters were finally rescued, 15 years after the first birth.
13. Her Step-Father Tried To Chase The Car
Jaycee Lee was seen walking up the street towards the bus stop by Carl Probyn, her step-father. She was wearing her favourite outfit, all shades of pink. He saw a car slow down as she was halfway up the hill, and roll down the window. Then a stun gun emerged and shocked her, and a woman grabbed her to pull her into the car. It was a mid-sized grey car that he saw from the house. He quickly jumped onto his bicycle and gave chase, but unfortunately for him the traffic was flowing freely and he was not able to overtake the vehicle. Eventually, it left him behind. He had no chance of keeping up for what was a 3-hour long journey to the Garrido house in Antioch. Even though he had chased the car and done everything in his physical power to get her back, he would not see Jaycee Lee again for another 18 years.
12. She May Have Been Seen
Even though a huge search effort was underway immediately after Jaycee Lee’s abduction, and even in the years that followed, she was never found as a child. But she might have been rescued sooner if the police had followed through on one lead that they were given. On April 22, 1992 – less than a year after she was taken – a man reported that he had seen Jaycee Lee at a gas station less than 2 miles from where the Garridos lived. He claimed to have seen her staring at a missing poster of herself, then getting into a large yellow van. The van was gone when the police arrived, but shockingly, a van matching the description was found at the Garrido residence in 2009 after her release. Jaycee Lee claimed that she never left the Garrido property until 1994, but it’s possible this could have been a one-off instance that she blocked out because she didn’t manage to escape.
11. Police Visited The House Regularly
One of the biggest failings in this case was the fact that Phillip Garrido was on parole for his previous offences, and should have been checked on more thoroughly. In fact, police officers would visit the house regularly to check that he was still keeping to the terms of his parole, and they missed plenty of signs that he was not. It all stemmed from an error that had him incorrectly classified as only needing low-level supervision, when his crimes deserved a closer eye. There were lots of lapses stemming from that. For example, the fire department once came to treat a juvenile with an injury at the house, but the parole office never heard about it. In 2006, the Contra Costa County sheriff’s office were told that he had children living in tents in his back yard, but a deputy sheriff spoke with Garrido rather than taking a look for himself. There was another instance when a parole agent saw a 12-year-old girl, presumably the eldest daughter, at the house but accepted an explanation that she was Philip’s niece – even though he had no niece.
10. Her Father Never Knew Her
Jaycee Lee’s father was not around during her childhood, which is why she was living with her step-father instead. In fact, her real father never even knew that she existed until he learned that she had been abducted. It was a cruel way to find out: he had had a fling with Jaycee’s mother, Terry, in 1979 which resulted in a pregnancy that he was never told about. By the time she was born, the relationship was long over. Ken Slayton was her father, and when she was rescued, he stated that he wanted to be part of her life. Perhaps understandably, Jaycee decided that she did not want that to happen. As far as she is concerned, her family consists of her mother and her step-father, Carl Probyn. Both her father and her step-father were considered to be persons of interest early on in the case, although they were both cleared quickly.
9. His First Wife Said Phillip Was Abusive
Nancy was not Phillip’s first wife, and it’s in fact shocking to learn that they met while he was in prison for his first abduction. She was visiting her uncle at Leavenworth Penitentiary when the convicted offender caught her eye, and they even got married at the prison. But his first wife also had a story to tell. She was Christine Murphy, a high school classmate of Phillip’s who married him in 1973 when he was around 22. She has accused him of being abusive, and even that when she tried to leave him at first, he kidnapped her to make her stay. This was a clear sign of his controlling and abusive behaviour first coming to the fore, and it soon became apparent that just having one woman to control was not going to be enough for him. It was just 3 years after his marriage that he kidnapped and raped Katherine Callaway in his first conviction.
8. He Had Kidnapped Another Girl In The Past
Katherine was 25 years old when Phillip kidnapped her in South Lake Tahoe, California. He took her to a warehouse in Reno, Nevada, and forced her inside. There he raped her in an ongoing attack that lasted for 5 and a half years. A police officer who happened to be driving by noted that there was a car parked outside the warehouse, and also that the lock had been broken. He knocked on the door and Phillip answered, only for Katherine to follow him and ask the officer for help. Phillip was immediately arrested and charged, and he was convicted in 1977 for a 50-year federal sentence. Of course, he did not serve the whole term, seeing release in 1988. Chillingly, he testified during his trial that he had a habit of driving out near to schools and pleasuring himself while he watched the young girls playing or walking around.
7. It May Have Been Triggered By An Accident
After Jaycee Lee was discovered and rescued in 2009, of course the press wanted to know about what had happened and why Phillip Garrido had turned out this way. His father, Manuel Garrido, gave interviews about his son and what he had been like growing up. According to him, he was a normal and nice young man until he had a motorcycle accident as a teenager, which was regarded as serious. He then turned to drug use, focusing on LSD and crystal meth – a habit which lingered throughout Jaycee Lee’s abduction. He also has a brother called Ron who agreed that the drugs altered his mind and the way that he acted, describing him as turning into a “fruitcake”. It’s terrifying to think that a crash could have affected his mind and triggered his drug abuse, violence, and deviant behaviour. Could this same thing happen to any one of us, no matter how normal we might be beforehand?
6. They Stole Her Clothes
Imagine being a terrified 11-year-old girl, shocked with a stun gun and then forced into a car with people that you don’t know. That would be frightening enough in itself, but the journey was awful in other ways. Nancy Garrido held her down in the backseat as she drifted in and out of consciousness, trying to plead with them that her parents could not afford to pay a ransom – not knowing at that time that they were not interested in money. Nancy stripped her of her clothes during the journey, leaving her exposed and even more terrified. They led her naked through the property with a blanket over her head, then forced her into a small shed in the backyard. Phillip placed handcuffs on her, raped her, and then locked her in the shed without her clothes. She was even told that there were Dobermans guarding the yard, and that if she tried to escape, they would attack her. She was kept in handcuffs for the whole of the first week.
5. Nancy Took Over As Her Captor
For the first 7 months of her captivity, Phillip was the only other person that Jaycee saw. But Nancy was introduced to her again at the end of that period. In a Stockholm syndrome-like twist, Jaycee started out craving approval from Nancy, though she later came to realize that she was being manipulated. Phillip was sent back to prison when he failed a drug test and broke the terms of his parole, and during that time Nancy took over as her main jailer. Nancy would switch between a concerned mother and a cold and cruel captor often, and also expressed jealousy over Jaycee. Rather than being an abused wife who was forced to go along with the scheme, Nancy was an active participant at all times, and even helped to further the lies when the couple started to allow Jaycee and her children a little more freedom. They didn’t even give Jaycee cooked food until she fell pregnant, and it was from this time that things changed little by little.
4. He Was Often High
Phillip’s drug habit did not decline while he had Jaycee in captivity. Rather, it seemed like he loved having her around when he was high. He used to go on binges of methamphetamine, where he would get high and then dress Jaycee Lee up. He would spend a lot of time with her during these days, and would bring adult magazines along with him so that he could cut out figures from them. He also said he could hear voices coming from the walls, and made Jaycee listen for them. At the end of his binges, Phillip would switch between regret and rage. He would sob and apologize to Jaycee – a habit which his wife also often copied – and then he would threaten to sell her. He said that she would be bought by people who kept her in a cage. These incidences carried on throughout her abduction, and when her daughters were born, Jaycee would spend time trying to protect them from him.
3. The Court Case Was A Mess
Even when it finally came to court, this case was not as open and shut as you might expect. There was a lot of hassle, particularly pertaining to Phillip and Nancy Garrido and their lawyers. First of all they both pleaded not guilty to all of their charges, which included kidnap, rape, and false imprisonment. Nancy’s defence attorney, a man called Gilbert Maines, was removed from the case without explanation, and he was replaced by Stephen Tapson. He claimed that Nancy and Phillip made a full confession and had decided to change their plea, but when it came to it, they pleaded not guilty again. Then Tapson and Phillip’s attorney got into a war of words themselves, with Phillip’s also claiming that the jury had been selected wrongly. It was not until their third attempt that Nancy and Phillip finally offered a guilty plea, which allowed the rest of the court proceedings to skip right ahead to the sentencing.
2. She Worked In Their Business
If you were ever in this kind of situation, you probably imagine that you would wait for the earliest opportunity and then run for the hills. But in Jaycee Lee’s case, things weren’t so simple. Many threats had been made against her, and she had no idea how to get home. She also had her two daughters to think about – it would not be so easy to escape as a trio. Over time she was allowed more freedoms, but had to continue pretending to be the Garridos’ daughter. She even worked for Phillip in his print shop, as a graphic artist. Customers spoke to and even met Jaycee Lee and never suspected a thing. She had access to a phone and email account but did not use them. She even answered the front door on occasion but never tried to leave. The Garridos had such a hold on her that she even pretended to be a woman named Allissa and that Phillip was a great man when the police first interrogated her. She only admitted who she was after Phillip had turned himself in.
1. She Might Not Be The Only Victim
We already know that Phillip had abducted another woman before, albeit for 5 and a half hours as opposed to 18 years as with Jaycee Lee (not that it’s any better). But it’s thought that he may even have been involved in another disappearance. A young girl called Michaela Garecht was abducted in broad daylight in 1988, when she was just 9 years old. She was taken around 55 miles from the Garrido home, making it certainly within their radius. The circumstances of her abduction also seem to match Phillip’s MO. He is currently considered to be a person of interest in the case and has not been ruled out, although no evidence was found when police carried out extensive searches of his home, his neighbour’s home, and even the home of a client. Her friend saw her being pulled into a car by a white male who could have been Phillip, but this case has never been solved.