Police: Sex offender, wife arrested in connection with Dugard kidnapping
August 27, 2009
SACRAMENTO – A convicted sex offender and his wife have been arrested in the kidnapping of an 11-year-old girl in 1991 who recently walked into a Northern California police station, authorities said Thursday.
Phillip Garrido, 58, and his wife Nancy Garrido, 54, were arrested for investigation of kidnapping and conspiracy on Wednesday, police said.
Phillip Garrido is also being held for investigation of rape by force, lewd and lascivious acts with a minor and sexual penetration, said Jimmie Lee, a spokesman for the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Department.
Phillip Garrido has a conviction for rape by force or fear, according to the Megan’s Law database.
The kidnapped woman was in good health when she came into a San Francisco Bay area police station and said she was Jaycee Lee Dugard, a blond, ponytailed girl when she was abducted as she headed to a school bus stop 18 years ago outside her South Lake Tahoe home, said sheriff’s Lt. Les Lovell of the El Dorado Sheriff’s Department.
Lee said the suspects were being held in the Contra Costa County Jail in Martinez.
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A house in the city of Antioch was cordoned off with police tape as it was being searched by FBI agents and the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department.
Neighbor Helen Boyer, 78, described the Garridos as nice and friendly and said they cared for Phillip Garrido’s elderly mother.
“If I needed something, they would be the first I would call on,” Boyer said.
Dugard’s stepfather, Carl Probyn, said the news of the case was like winning the lottery.
“To have this happen where we get her back alive, and where she remembers things from the past, and to have people in custody is a triple win,” he told the Sacramento Bee.
Witnesses reported that a vehicle with two people drove up to Dugard and abducted her while her stepfather was watching on June 10, 1991.
In media reports at the time, the girl’s stepfather said he heard Jaycee scream then jumped on a bicycle and frantically pedaled after the car in a failed effort to follow it up a hill. He then turned around and screamed at neighbors to call 911.
The case attracted national attention and was featured on TV’s “America’s Most Wanted,” which broadcast a composite drawing of a suspect seen in the car.
Probyn said his wife, Terry, had spoken with Dugard by phone on Wednesday. He said the mother and their 19-year-old daughter were flying from their Southern California home to meet with Dugard in Northern California.
Investigators first visited with his wife about three weeks ago, he said.
Probyn said he endured years of suspicion from FBI agents who believed he may have been involved in the abduction. He eventually lost hope that he would ever see his stepdaughter alive.
“Then you pray that you get her body back so there is an ending,” Probyn said.
– Associated Press Writers Paul Elias and Terry Collins in San Francisco and Brooke Donald in Antioch, Calif., contributed to this report.