This report aired on Dateline NBC on Friday, Oct. 2, 2009. See related web-exclusive videos here.
The whole world has seen the backyard squalor. Has heard the tale of 11-year-old Jaycee Dugard - kidnapped, screaming, from a bus stop, spirited to this forsaken place nearly 20 years ago, has heard now she was pregnant at 14, how she raised two daughters in here. And has seen the eyes of the man beneath the accusing headlines. So many questions, now. How did she survive, how is she now?
Keith Morrison, Dateline NBC: Would you want to see her now?
Kelly Brosnahan: Oh, I would love to. I'd hope she remembers me and all the fun things we did together. I would love to see her.
Who is Phil Garrido--the man accused of keeping Jaycee and those girls on his property all these years -how did he get to be that way? Are there victims, still to be discovered? And did the law miss repeated opportunities to prevent any of this from happening?
Here's the astonishing record we've uncovered.
This is a story that should never have happened, about a man whose monstrous appetites, once stopped - and they were - should have stayed that way. But that's the trouble with evil intent: It isn't necessarily so simple to see. Peel away that malevolent look on his face, erect a barricade to keep the neighbors and the law at bay, and you have the disturbing tale of Phillip Garrido. Make sense of this if you can.
It began here: San Francisco's East Bay. Garrido was a child of the 60's, a boy whose mother thought he could do no wrong, or so it's been reported. Though, as he himself admits, he did lots of wrong things: as a teenager, he began abusing drugs. He became very fond of LSD. Landed in jail on a drug possession charge. And then, out again, a struggling musician, at the age of 21, was first accused of a sexual attack.
It was 1972. Antioch, California. Garrido and a friend picked up two girls walking to the public library. Or so it was alleged by Lieutenant Leonard Orman of the Antioch Police Department.
Leonard Orman: They started driving around. Apparently Mr. Garrido provided them with barbiturates.
The alleged victim remembers only that she was taken to this motel, was sexually assaulted, and then woke up in the hospital.
Leonard Orman: The victim made a decision not to testify, therefore the case was dropped.
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And thus our use of the word "alleged." And thus also perhaps the first opportunity missed. There would be, as you'll see, several more. Garrido soon landed in Reno, married his high school sweetheart, lived, as far as anyone in the world around him knew, an unremarkable life.
And then in November of 1976, Phillip Garrido went hunting. This is where he came: It's just across the state line, in California. Where, in a South Lake Tahoe parking lot, he found what he was looking for.
Katie Calloway: After I got in my car and started backing out, actually, I heard a bang on my window. And it was this tall young man standing there in a denim suit.
This woman's name is Katie Calloway. She was 25 then, a blackjack dealer and single mother.
Katie Calloway: I rolled down my window. And he said, "Gee, I'm-- I'm really sorry. I didn't mean to frighten you, but my car won't start. I was just wondering, which way are you going??”
She had no idea of course that another woman would come forward to claim the man in the denim suit tried to abduct her just an hour earlier.
Katie Calloway: He didn't look to me like what i thought a rapist should look like.
Katie Calloway let the man into her car and began driving in the direction of her boyfriend's house.
Katie Calloway: And as I got to the side street I was going to turn on he says, "Well, actually it's just past that porch light right there.” And at that point he slammed my head into the steering wheel. And just overpowered me. He grabbed my keys. Threw 'em on the floor. Had handcuffs out of his pocket. He said to me, "All I want is a piece of ass. If you cooperate you won't get hurt."
Nothing could have been further from the truth. Phillip Garrido had a plan for Katie.
They took a drive, 60 miles, to a storage facility in Reno. He forced Katie into one of the units in which he had crafted a sex palace of sorts: carpeted walls, pornographic magazines, sex toys. He took, by his own admission, 4 hits of LSD.And then, for hour after hour, committed unspeakable sins against his victim.
Katie Calloway: He said to me things like, you know, "Just imagine if you were in Roman times and you had to do everything the man said if you were their slave." You know?
For 8 hours, the horrors continued. Then, 3 a.m., Katie heard a knocking sound. A passing police officer had noticed that the lock on the unit had been opened not with a key, but a crowbar.
Katie Calloway: He banged very loudly on the door. And Garrido went out there to-- see who it was. And he came back in and he said, "It's the heat. Do-- do I have to tie you up or are you going to be good?" And I said, "No, I've been good. No problem. You know, you don't have to tie me up.”
Garrido went back to talk to the cop.
Katie Calloway: I sat there for about-- I don't know, 20, 30 seconds. And I thought, "I've got to try. If this is-- if that's really a policeman out there, I've got to try and I've got to do it now. I just ran out there. I said, "Help me. Help me, please. Help me. He kidnapped me." You know? And-- and I ran over next to him. And the policeman said, "What's going on here?" And Garrido says, "Nothing. This is just my girlfriend. We're havin' a party back here. And I said, "No, i'm not. Keep him away from me. Keep him away!”
Phillip Garrido was arrested. Charged with kidnapping. Rape. Dan DeMaranville was the police detective assigned to interview Garrido.
Dan DeMaranville: One of the questions I remember asking him is-- is why is a guy that, you know, looks like you just committing a kidnapping and rape. You shouldn't have to do that. And he responded, "Well, I have a little problem. And one of the ways I get sexual gratification is by forcing women."
To a man, authorities in Reno believed they had caught a madman, a sexual sadist who, if, he had somehow slipped through their fingers would never have allowed his captive to get out alive.
Mike Malloy is a former deputy prosecutor in Reno.
Mike Malloy: He-- wouldn't have been able to make a sex slave out of her. So he would've had to dispose of her some other way. So I think the police officer who was on his toes and found that crime in progress because of good police work is the person who saved Ms. Calloway's life.
That is what happened, Thanksgiving, 1976. A predator, caught red handed. Brought to justice. But what happened next, though it rolled out in legal slow-motion, was - as you will see - perhaps the most puzzling chapter of the whole disturbing story.
Reno, Nevada. 1976. Phillip Garrido had been caught raping Katie Calloway, in a seedy storage unit “sex palace.”
Dan DeMaranville: Look at his eyes. Look at the expression on his face. He's JDLR. He just don't look right. I don't care who you are. He just don't look right.
And not from his eyes, but from Garrido's own mouth came a terrifying, and prophetic, warning.
In court, Garrido admitted to watching little girls as young as seven, outside schools and restaurants. A psychiatrist presented an evaluation and said Garrido complained of hallucinations, said he felt LSD increased his sexual abilities, and said he felt powerless to resist what he called fantasies -driving him to commit rape.
Mike Malloy: He had such sexual fantasies that go beyond the norm, and he was going to carry out those fantasies no matter what it took and no matter who he might hurt in the process.
Garrido told the judge it was the LSD that made him do it. But with his arrest, he said, he found something better than drugs; he found God, and he vowed to straighten out his life.
The judge's sentence? For kidnapping, 50 years in federal prison. And for rape and other state crimes?
MikeMalloy: The judge agreed that this perpetrator deserved the harshest sentence available to the court, which was a life sentence of imprisonment in the Nevada state prison.
And so it was imposed. A life sentence. A 50-year sentence. To be served at the same time. Never, the court decided, would Phil Garrido be given the chance to leer at, touch or assault girls or women ever again.
Katie Calloway Hall: I'm thinking, he's going away for a long time.
Or so she assumed. And then, in November 1988, 11 years after Garrido was sentenced to 50 years plus life in prison, Katie Calloway saw someone approach her roulette table.
Katie Calloway Hall: When he asked for a drink, he said-- "you know, Katie, I haven't had a drink in 11 years. This is my first drink in 11 years."
She went cold. 11 years since the nightmare in the storage unit.
Katie Calloway Hall: And when he left he leaned over the table and he said to me, "Hope to see you again real soon, Katie." And the hairs on the back of my neck went up and I said, I think that's the guy that kidnapped me.
But wasn't that man still in prison?
Frantically, during her 20-minute work breaks, Katie attempted to track down Phillip Garrido. How could he be free? Be here? In Tahoe?
Here's how it happened: Garrido had been packed off to Leavenworth Prison in Kansas on the kidnapping charge. Three years into that sentence, Garrido, now divorced, married a woman named Nancy. A nurse’s aide who'd fallen in love with him while visiting a relative in prison.
For the next several years, he and she did everything they could to convince people he was a changed man, that he deserved a second chance. And he got one. Under the guidelines back then, the Feds paroled him after ten years. Shipped him then, to Nevada, to complete his life sentence and there. Garrido took the final step out the door.
The Nevada Parole Board voted 3-2 to set him free. Phillip Garrido was no longer behind bars.
Dan DeMaranville: He only did less than 11 years. Not enough. Not enough time.
Katie Calloway, now terrified for her own safety, reached a man she never expected to have to speak to: Garrido's parole officer.
Katie Calloway Hall: He says, "And what do you want me to tell you? That he's well? He's not. He's a sick puppy. We know he's going to do this again. But we're sure it's not directed at you."
Well, that, at least, was true. It was 1988. Phillip Garrido had his freedom now. His activities could resume.
Nicole Sipes: It's beautiful, it's heaven, y'know?
Kelly Brosnahan: It was a wonderful place to grow up.
Tucked under the ancient alpine canopy that blankets the southern end of this national treasure is a lattice of quiet streets, a child's paradise. Or so it seemed as spring turned to summer, 1991, South Lake Tahoe. Jaycee Dugard was the new girl in town that year. Pretty, blonde, very quiet. And very shy.
She had just a couple of fast friends, among them Kelly Brosnahan. On June 7, a Friday night, Jaycee attended Kelly's sleepover party.
KeithMorrison: I think that's about the most fun thing girls can do at a certain stage, a sleepover!
KellyBrosnahan: Yeah, we had fun, and we were playing Nintendo and just the normal things you'd do at a sleepover.
And then it was Monday morning. Last week of school. Jaycee walked alone along her safe street to the school bus stop. Nicole Sipes, now a mother herself, was on the bus when it pulled up to Jaycee's corner.
By then, it had already happened.
NicoleSipes: The twins from across the street ran onto the bus and started yelling, "They took her, they took her, they took her."
What happened then is still a vivid memory, two decades later.
NicoleSipes: Everybody was scared. I mean, we're 11 and a police officer gets on and says we all have to stay on the bus, you know something really bad has happened.
KeithMorrison: Did you have any idea what?
NicoleSipes: No, we didn't know what had happened until after he had told us stay on the bus.
Kelly was on the playground, waiting for her friend Jaycee. Unaware of what had happened.
KellyBrosnahan: And I remember the kids coming from Jaycee's bus, and Jaycee wasn't coming. And the kids were saying that-- that there was a-- a car and s-- they heard somebody got kidnapped, and then another group of kids said they thought it was Jaycee.
Back home, as a massive search began, the single, frantic eyewitness to the abduction, Jaycee's stepfather, went on local TV.
Carl Probyn: I watched my daughter go towards the top of the hill and all of a sudden the car darted in front of her.
Video: String of kidnappings related?
911 call: Video: String of kidnappings related?
Carl Probyn: My daughter was just kidnapped. It was a gray Ford. A man and a woman in the car.
Just like that, little 11-year old Jaycee Dugard was driven away in a gun-metal gray sedan. Gone. Her mother Terry. Inconsolable, appealed to whoever had taken her.
TerryProbyn on TV: I need her home. I need her to come home tonight. Jaycee, if you hear Mommy, I love you, and I want you to come home tonight safe and sound.
Keith Morrison: What was it like for you that next few days?
Kelly Brosnahan: I just (crying) remember it was really hard. It was awful, so awful. It was a very sad and very hard thing.
Keith Morrison: Did you have any idea what might have happened to her?
Kelly Brosnahan: No, no. I just know my friend was there one day and then the next day she wasn't. And I remember how hard it was to see Terry. She was just so distraught.
Then as if to add to Terry's grief, police took a hard look at her own husband, Jaycee's stepfather Carl Probyn. He was the last to see her, after all. And as the hours became days, the weeks turn into months, his life became increasingly untenable here in the glare of public suspicion. Eventually, his marriage to Jaycee's mother fell apart. And separately, they moved away.
But in those first hours he was able to accomplish something important: a sketch that was both helpful and, well, unhelpful. A sketch of the female abductor.
Retired FBI agent Mary Ellen O'Toole worked the case. She helped author an FBI manual on Video: Mother of abductee: 'I'm still hoping' child abduction.
MaryEllen O'Toole: Two things that were striking. Number one, this is not a crime that you see a woman commit, generally. And then number two, it was then, and it continues to be, unusual to have a couple involved in this kind of crime.
And O'Toole says there were other telling circumstances.
MaryEllen O'Toole: Plus, it occurred in broad daylight. Plus, it occurred in front of other people who could provide us with information about the car, about Jaycee, about the abductor, about what the dynamics of the neighborhood were like. So, to do that seemed to be very high-risk behavior.
But despite so many clues, the little girl was gone. No trace at all. The desperate searchers knew nothing, of course, of Phil Garrido or Nancy, his jail-house bride. There was debate about even believing the story that a woman had snatched Jaycee. And as the months piled up and those children grew up, here under the great pines of South Lake Tahoe, in this little family paradise, everything changed.
KeithMorrison: Kind of injects a little paranoia pill or something--
NicoleSipes: It did, yeah. They did horrible things, not only to her but to the whole community.
The search went on, of course, amid much diminished expectations. Investigators cast about, looking to see if other cases might lead them in the direction of Jaycee's abductor.
MaryEllenO'Toole: We had this cluster of child abductions, and of course one of the primary questions that we were dealing with at this time were they all committed by the same individual?
And it turned out there was one particular case that sounded a lot like Jaycee's. Video: Phillip Garrido eyed in another abduction
1988. Hayward, California. Three years before Jaycee was taken. But less than an hour's drive from where Phillip Garrido settled in after prison that very year. Two little girls rode a pair of scooters to the corner store.
KeithMorrison: How far?
KatrinaRodriguez: Couple of blocks away. We went inside, we purchased some sodas, some beef jerky and some Laffy Taffy.
Katrina Rodriguez and her best friend Michaela Garecht were nine years old. Michaela, who looked so much like Jaycee Dugard.
Katrina Rodriguez: We were just gabbing, walking away from the store.
It was Michaela who noticed someone moved one of the scooters away from the door over to a car perhaps 30 feet away.
Katrina Rodriguez: So, she went to go pick it up.
Katrina Rodriguez: I looked up when I heard screaming. And I just watched this man pick her up. She was kicking and screaming, and he shoved her in the car, got in the car himself, and pulled out and I kept watching as he drove out of the parking lot.
And now, more than 20 years later...
Michaela's mother Sharon is transfixed by the similarities.
SharonMurch: The appearance was striking. They were both dragged into a car. The Video: Kidnap witness: 'I'm left with the guilt' descriptions of the cars were similar.
And one more thing: look at the sketch of the abductor Katrina helped the police artist draw.
KatrinaRodriguez: I said at the time that it seemed as though he looked right through me.
Was this a young Phil Garrido? Now, reviewing the record is to wonder: Had the law missed him after a first rape? Is that why Katie Calloway suffered? Was it his early release on parole that led directly to the abduction of Jaycee? And was Michaela a victim, too?
And even after all that, how would Phil Garrido be able to hide in plain sight for decades to come?
Imagine your way, if you can, back to the mid 1990's, where, in South Lake Tahoe, California, optimists still held out a flickering candle of hope for Jaycee Dugard, gone four years by then.
In Hayward, California, Michaela Garecht's mother still stuck close to home, watching for that blonde head to come bobbing down the street. And not far away, Phillip Garrido went into the printing business.
TimothyAllen: I was probably one of his first customers.
Timothy Allen ran a glass and window shop. Sent his business to Garrido for a decade, eventually even met the printer's two young daughters.
TimothyAllen: And he almost had like a twinkle in his eye, too, looking down at the pride he had in these two young girls. I remember they didn't take their eyes off me. And that's-- that's kind of a little bit unusual for a kid.
But not suspicious, really, in spite of the... eccentricities.
JaniceGomes: Phillip had a very jumpy personality.
Janice Gomes opened a window cleaning business, and was also a loyal Garrido customer. Quirks and all.
JaniceGomes: And he told me that his daughter was helping in the business. And I'm thinking, why is he using a six-year-old to make my business cards? They keep coming back misspelled.
But the girl was not six. She was much older, and was in fact, Jaycee, now known as Alyssa, as Gomes's son once learned during a rare visit to Garrido's house here on Walnut Avenue, where the printer introduced him to a pretty blond girl.
JaniceGomes: He said, that's my daughter Alyssa. But she didn't make eye contact with my son like “Help me.” She didn't act like she was worried or scared or fearful.
How little she knew about the printer and his family. When Gomes later became a child safety advocate, she went to Garrido again to print posters for missing little girls.
JaniceGomes: And Phillip had looked 'em over and he said, you know, I hear people say that “There's safety in numbers. Children should walk together in groups." He goes, "That's not necessarily true. You still can reach out and grab just one, and that's all you really want anyway, is just one."
So many signs, from a man freely offering such specific advice. Why didn't she see them? She wonders now, of course. As she remembers those strange feelings she couldn't shake when she visited Garrido's home.
This is where he lived. On the unincorporated fringe of Antioch, California, the sort of neighborhood in which a person doesn't ask too many questions.
JaniceGomes: And I was not real comfortable with going in his house. So, I was asking myself, does my husband know I'm here? Does my family know I'm here? You know?
Still, clients like Gomes had no idea that Garrido was a convicted sex offender. Or that parole officers were checking on him. Though we've discovered that he somehow avoided registering with California authorities for almost a decade, until 1999. And after that you could find his picture here, right on the Megan's law Web site. And gradually, some of the neighbors were clued in about the record of the man they called "Creepy Phil."
KeithReeves: Everybody's a little weird here. That's why they move here in the first place, ‘cause they obviously wanna be in a hidden, secluded area kinda, y'know.
Neighbors like this man left Garrido alone. Him and whatever was going on behind that fence of his.
KeithReeves: We even joked about oh, he's probably got somebody locked in his basement, y'know?
KeithMorrison: Why would you say such a thing as that?
KeithReeves: Well, just ‘cause he seemed like he might.
Some of the neighbors even saw the girls in the yard.
PollyWhite: A little girl popped up there and kind of surprised me and I asked her what her name was, and she just took off.
It was a neighbor's visiting girlfriend who blew the whistle, after seeing that two girls seemed to be living with the known sex offender, Creepy Phil. And sure enough, a sheriff's deputy responded to the house and spoke directly to Phillip Garrido.
But that visit is notorious now for what the deputy did not do. He did not check to determine Garrido's criminal record. Did not enter or search the house. Did not search the property. Did not did even walk into the now famous backyard, where, we now know he would have discovered a rabbits’ warren of squalor of tents and sheds, designed for secrecy. A sad, decrepit prison compound for a young mother --Jaycee Dugard. And the two daughters she'd had with Phillip Garrido. And yet another chance to stop it all was missed.
The lawman was just feet away from the girls, who were on this side of that piece of fence you can see leaning on the other property. They were moments from freedom. If only he had done some investigating, if he'd looked behind the fence. But he did not.
Why not? How did a system designed to protect people against dangerous sex offenders, fail so spectacularly? Good question.
But something did happen, perhaps, that day. Something neighbors and clients of Phil Garrido could not help but notice.
TimothyAllen: He shows up here right after that talking about hearing voices, schizophrenia.
Something was changing, in ways increasingly bizarre.
Something was happening to Phil Garrido. Was it the unwelcome attention - however brief - of law enforcement in November of 2006? Whatever it was, his clients certainly noticed.
TimothyAllen: He'd always been slightly religious, but, in 2006, he started really talking about these wild religious views.
That's when Garrido began delivering a manifesto of sorts about schizophrenia addressed to attorneys, universities, and law enforcement, and promising to found a church based on a new understanding of God's desire.
JaniceGomes: He said, “Trust me. When my story hits, it's gonna be worldwide and it's a beautiful thing."
He launched a blog, too: Voices Revealed. His username? The Man Who Spoke With His Mind.
But did that mind fear the discovery of his secrets? In mid 2007, Google Maps’ mapping car, equipped with cameras, made its rounds past Garrido's home on Walnut Avenue. Watch what happens: a van, green, dusty, decrepit - a van we now know to be Phillip Garrido's - turns out after the car and begins to follow. For block after block the van follows the camera car until suddenly, it turns away.
Paranoid? Perhaps. And yet this same Phil Garrido repeatedly called authorities to his house.
911 records reveal 7 visits to the Garrido home in the past two years; five of the calls--medical calls for Garrido's elderly mother--placed by wife Nancy or by Phillip himself.
Operator: What's the problem, sir?
Phillip Garrido: My mom. She's 86. She's not responding, she's - her eyes are open and she looks like she's breathing really hard.
But the fire and EMS people Garrido called to his house were not his only official visitors, not at all. In the past year, parole officers sometimes visited the home twice a month. And never discovered the secret. All the while, Phillip Garrido hid in plain sight. Far from hiding, he bragged.
His wife Nancy began a blog called Talent Revealed, offering his music to investors, promising they'd double their money. And here is that music. Filled with lyrics, that, listened to now, turn the stomach.
Song: For every little girl, in the world, they wanna be in love. Yeah. You're just the same. Play a game. Just tell me that you want me.
In the end, he seemed to come unglued himself. The last straw for some friends and clients came in 2008, when he brought around a black box filled with electronic gadgets emitting hums and echoes, claiming it was his way to speak to God.
TimothyAllen: We thought that he was a nut. At that point, I made a conscious decision that i didn't really wanna spend a lotta time with him. We just felt that he was getting a little too kooky.
It was August of 2009 when Phillip Garrido's flaky behavior caused the charade to come undone.
TimothyAllen: He had brought his two daughters here to UC-Berkeley. He was here to ask permission to hold an event publicizing his group "God's Desire." But his erratic behavior when she confronted the campus police, aroused their suspicions and they checked and discovered that he was a criminal sex offender. So they informed his parole officer. It was, in effect, the campus cops who blew the whistle on Phil Garrido.
One can only imagine the scene that followed. There is no visual record of it.
Phillip Garrido reported to that parole officer--who had no idea Garrido had children. He went there with wife Nancy in tow, as well as the kidnapped girl, Jaycee Dugard, now a woman of 29, and- most shockingly- two girls. Jaycee's daughters. And his daughters, too. Now, unbelievably, 15 and 11 years old. The girl who was lost was, against all odds, found, and returned, finally, to her mother, who'd lost her all those years ago. A little girl walking to school.
No surprise the news shot round the whole world, and back here to South Lake Tahoe, Calif.
KellyBrosnahan: She missed everything. She missed out on everything. And it kills me for her. It just breaks my heart. And it was all his fault. That man was horrible to do that to her. She got robbed of being a kid, y'know?
KeithMorrison: Would you want to see her now?
KellyBrosnahan: Oh. I would love to. I'd hope she remembers me and all the fun things we did together. I would love to see her.
And now of course the questions: after two decades of failure to find Jaycee or catch her abductor, and with Phillip and Nancy Garrido arrested, jailed, and awaiting trial after pleading not guilty to dozens of counts of kidnapping and rape… Those who dealt with Garrido but failed to heed their own gut warnings are beating themselves up.
Timothy Allen: He is a rapist, an abductor and a sick, twisted monster. And I am just horrified that I had all this contact with him all these years.
The child safety advocate who let Garrido print her flyers couldn't believe it either.
JaniceGomes: How are you supposed to feel? This makes me sick to my stomach. I can't believe I didn't see this happen. How are we gonna get away with saying for 18 years we just thought he was weird?
As for law enforcement agencies, as you will see, their reactions differed widely. But the story, amazing though it certainly is, wasn't isn't over. A virtual army descended on that backyard in Antioch, seeking evidence of other crimes. What remained to be discovered about at least one other small blonde girl from long ago?
Many hundreds of miles and several states away from the headline developments in Antioch, California, a young mother saw the news, and went into something like shock.
KeithMorrison: Did those pictures resemble the man you saw in that parking lot that day?
Remember Katrina Rodriguez? She was 9 when she saw a man snatch her friend Michaela Garecht from that Hayward, California parking lot in 1988. Back then, she helped police draw the sketch of the man with the eyes that have haunted her nights ever since.
KatrinaRodriguez: When I look at Phillip Garrido's photographs, I see that intensity that I was looking for. It's..it’s..just is an awful feeling. I look at that and I just see a horrible human being.
Hers was not the only revelation. In Hayward, just a couple of miles from that long ago crime, a police inspector named Robert Lampkin is still, all these years, working the Michaela Garecht case.
RobertLampkin: Y'know we'll go anywhere, any corner of the earth to try to bring Michaela home.
And so cadaver dogs descended on that backyard on Walnut Avenue. Dogs, and ground penetrating radar machines. And police armed with warrants in the cases of two missing girls, 13-year-old Ilene Misheloff, who also went missing in the East Bay, and 9-year old Michaela Garecht, that little blonde girl who looked so much like Jaycee Dugard, abducted by a man who looks, we now know, so much like Phillip Garrido.
So easily seen now, but, apparently, for so many, for so long… Impossible.
That first alleged rape went unprosecuted. Then he was caught red-handed kidnapping and raping Katie Calloway. And when that punishment was shortened, the charge against him says, he went out and raped a child of 11, Jaycee, and perhaps even more. He lived in the open, untroubled by those in charge of his parole. Even received a commendation from the U.S. parole commission for turning his life around. And all the while, he kept that secret in his own backyard.
Sheriff Warren Rupf: My first thoughts were, my God, how could any of us, how could a system let these kids down?
Contra Costa County Sheriff Warren Rupf sat down exclusively with Dateline. It was one of Rupf's deputies who visited Garrido's home in 2006 after a neighbor reported children living in tents in the backyard. But the deputy did not bother to do more than a cursory search.
KeithMorrison: What happened to that officer?
SheriffWarren Rupf: The officer's feeling bad, but…
KeithMorrison: That's it? Just feeling bad?
SheriffWarren Rupf: There have been those who've criticized me for not offering up his head in this matter. But he was working an overtime shift. He was chasing details.
KeithMorrison: He goes up to the door, he talks to this guy, and he didn't go look? I don't get it. Nobody gets it!
SheriffWarren Rupf: He did not know that the resident was a sexual predator. He did not have that information.
KeithMorrison: right but, you send an officer to somebody's house to check on a report like that. Isn't a routine search done to see whether or not maybe you have a sexual offender here?
SheriffWarren Rupf: That's the basis of my apology. But after having talked to the officer I understand why he did not go further. He'd already classified this improperly of course, in his mind, that this was kids camped in the backyard. Again, I'm not trying to hold that up as an acceptable work product. If I was, I wouldn't be apologizing as I am.
But if the sheriff--alone, by the way, in his willingness among officials to apologize for the failures in this case--if he felt mortified by his own department's failures, he's not willing to take the fall alone. He lashed out at parole officials in California who clearly had no idea what was going on in Phillip Garrido's backyard. And whose agents' supervision of Garrido from 1999 until this year is now being investigated by the state's inspector general.
And he's angry at federal officials who released Garrido from parole in 1999, and who now refuse to release dozens of pages from the official file.
KeithMorrison: You can understand, perhaps, why the public might be a little suspicious of the government's motives in refusing to release whatever documentation it does have?
SheriffWarren Rupf: I'm suspicious of that! And other than being outraged at our, I guess, failure in this case, I am most outraged with others that have not stood up and accepted responsibility for not having done a good job. No, I don't blame the public for mistrusting 'em. I don't trust 'em!
But one family - whose cause to be angry or mistrustful is unquestioned by anyone - has decided to avoid recriminations and look forward instead. If there's one result Jaycee and her mother Terry want most, said their lawyer McGregor Scott in this exclusive interview with Dateline, it's to make sure that what happened to them never happens again - not to anyone.
McGregor Scott: Terry Probyn genuinely wants to focus going forward to make sure that people like Phillip Garrido are held accountable, and if paroled, are monitored and staffed by the parole division at a level that clearly did not occur over the course of the last 18 years.
Keith Morrison: And she won't be shy about it? Video: How Jaycee's case is changing police protocol
McGregor Scott: She is very focused on taking this opportunity to serve as an advocate for reform so that other families will not have to live the nightmare that she has.
Keith Morrison: How the doing? How is jaycee doing?
McGregor Scott: Each time I meet with them and visit with them you can see progress, both with respect to Jaycee and the girls. And it's just a, just a remarkable thing to see.
And one last little thing: Phillip Garrido fired off a letter this week accusing officials of mistreating Jaycee, of refusing to allow a lawyer present when she was questioned.
To which her lawyer replied:
McGregor Scott: We just are simply not gonna dignify Mr. Garrido's letter with a response.
The digging around Garrido's property has stopped now. Searchers did find bits of bone, and the tension shot up briefly, but it's now been determined the bones were most likely animal. Of other potential victims? No evidence at all. News, which, in the grief-weighted logic of a mother missing her child, came as a relief.
SharonMurch: I had spent the entire morning at home in tears, over the very thought they might find Michaela. And when they didn't, it was just like a weight lifted.
Oh, she knows, she says, that even if her dream comes true, if Michaela is alive, there would be heartbreak, as there may well be now for Jaycee and her mother.
KeithMorrison: So you need to know what's coming. If you do find out?
SharonMurch: I know whatever we find out, whether we find her alive or not alive, I'm gonna have to hear things I'd rather not hear.
Still, here under the tree that marks the place Michaela was abducted all those years ago, her mother seemed to contemplate something that was almost hope. Jaycee survived, is home with her mother. Her alleged abductors in jail, awaiting trial. If one apparently impossible wish was granted, might others be granted too? Her long wait will go on.
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