Authorities end weeklong probe of Garrido property
ANTIOCH (AP) – Authorities on Tuesday ended an exhaustive weeklong search on the property where a Northern California girl was allegedly held captive for 18 years.
Police from the cities of Dublin and Hayward, in San Francisco’s east bay area, had been searching the grounds to see if Phillip and Nancy Garrido, the couple charged with kidnapping Jaycee Dugard in 1991, could be tied to two other area child abductions from the late 1980s.
But after an extensive effort in which archaeological experts and employees of multiple law enforcement agencies combed through more than an acre of land in blistering heat – some on their hands and knees – the search revealed no links to the 1988 abduction of Michaela Garecht or the 1989 disappearance of Ilene Misheloff.
“While we did not locate any definitive evidence that provides answers, this operation still holds much value and much potential value,” Hayward police Lt. Chris Orrey said. “We will walk away from these properties knowing that we left no stone unturned.”
Orrey said authorities still have not ruled out the couple as potential suspects. She said “boxes and boxes” of documents, photos and other evidence still must be examined, and investigators hope to someday question the Garridos about the decades-old cases.
With search warrants in tow, authorities had high hopes when they descended on the Garrido property in Antioch last week. They cited similarities between the abduction of Dugard, who was snatched at a South Lake Tahoe bus stop in 1991, and the 1988 kidnapping of 9-year-old Garecht outside a Hayward market and the 1989 disappearance of 13-year-old Misheloff who was last seen walking home in Dublin.
Authorities swiftly dismantled a hidden encampment of sheds and tents where they claim Dugard was held and lived with the two daughters she had with Garrido. They also threatened to tear down the Garrido house, if warranted.
Eventually, search dogs trained to detect dead bodies and old bones picked up scents on the property. Several bone fragments were recovered in Garrido’s backyard and a neighboring property. A professional archaeologist also spent days using ground-penetrating radars.
However, investigators said they found nothing of significance to the earlier cases.
Micheala’s mother, Sharon Murch, said Tuesday she was relieved her daughter wasn’t found on the property.
“I am still hoping to find Michaela alive,” Murch said.
When asked if authorities would search the property it all over again, Orrey said without hesitation, “Absolutely.”
A crime expert agreed. “It’s an absolute rational strategy. Anything you can do to eliminate or include (the Garridos’) possible involvement is worth the risk,” said Peter Scharf, a criminologist at Tulane University in New Orleans.
Dugard, now 29, was reunited with her family Aug. 27, a day after her alleged captors were arrested. Phillip and Nancy Garrido each have been charged with kidnapping, raping and falsely imprisoning Dugard in their backyard.
Both have pleaded not guilty.
On Tuesday, Murch was asked if she wanted to talk to the Garridos. She said she only wants to speak with Nancy.
“I think she may be as much a victim of his as anybody else,” Murch said. “Maybe she will be willing to talk and tell us what she knows.”
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
El Dorado County deputies arrested two people on suspicion of grand theft and possession of burglary tools after reportedly finding items linked to catalytic converter thefts in a vehicle during a traffic stop Jan. 13.