‘If it’s Jaycee Lee, this is a miracle" | TahoeDailyTribune.com

‘If it’s Jaycee Lee, this is a miracle"

Sheila Gardner / The Record-Courier

For Douglas County Sheriff Ron Pierini, the news Thursday that Jaycee Lee Dugard may be alive 18 years after she was abducted from a South Lake Tahoe bus stop was nothing short of a miracle.

“It’s pretty awesome,” Pierini said. “Statistics-wise, it’s very unusual that a person would still be alive this many years later. Usually, there is a 72-hour window after an abduction. In those first few minutes, it’s so critical to find the victim.”

“Quite frankly, most of us thought the chances of her being alive were negligible at best,” Pierini said.

Dugard, now 29, reportedly walked into a Concord, Calif., police station on Wednesday, identified herself, and asked for help.

“This is really positive news. It made my day. I am really happy for the family and especially for the victim,” Pierini said.

Bernie Curtis was Douglas County undersheriff when the 10-year-old Dugard disappeared June 10, 1991.

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She was abducted while walking to the bus stop on Washoan Boulevard in South Lake Tahoe on her way to school.

“I remember when she disappeared,” said Curtis, now chief of Nevada’s Department of Parole and Probation.

“Ron (Pierini) was my captain at the Lake. I remember the searches done on the California side. The FBI took over the case pretty quickly.”

The kidnapping drew national attention but was never solved.

Even though the disappearance was outside Douglas County’s jurisdiction, the sheriff’s office was involved in the search.

Curtis said family members and friends were investigated and every lead checked out.

“There was conjecture that she’d been sold into white slavery or sent to the Middle East. I can still see her picture in my mind. It was just one of those mysteries you couldn’t figure out. There was no evidence of any kind,” he said.

“If this is true, and Jaycee Lee is alive, this is a miracle,” Curtis said.

The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office has scheduled a 3 p.m. news conference to update the case. Two people reportedly are in custody related to Dugard’s disappearance.