News that a a missing girl was being held in a backyard shed at an Antioch home for 18 years shocked the Bay Area Thursday but some neighbors said they had their suspicions about the house and even called police to report it.
Jaycee Lee Dugard was snatched from her South Lake Tahoe neighborhood in 1991 when she was 11 years old. The case was cracked open this week when a UC Berkeley officer noticed a suspicious-looking man with two children passing fliers on the campus. The alert officer discovered the man was Phillip Garrido, a a registered sex offender.
Garrido was ordered to appear for a parole meeting and arrived Wednesday with Dugard, who identified herself as "Allissa," his wife, and two children. During questioning, corrections officials said he admitted to kidnapping Dugard.
Police say Garrido, 58 and his wife, Nancy, hid Dugard and and two children believed to have been fathered by Garrido, in the back yard of the home in a shed, tents and outbuildings.
"None of the children have ever been to school, they've never been to a doctor," El Dorado County Undersheriff Fred Kollar said. "They were kept in complete isolation in this compound."
The backyard compound had electricity from extension cords and a rudimentary outhouse and shower, "as if you were camping," Kollar said.
"The way the house is set up, the way the backyard is set up, you could walk through the backyard, walk through the house, and never know," Kollar said.
Even a parole agent who visited 58-year-old Phillip Garrido's home didn't have an inkling about the hidden compound, Kollar said. Garrido is a registered sex offender on federal parole for rape and kidnapping convictions.
Neighbors say they were concerned about what might be going on at the house.
Diane Doty said she could see the tents and often heard children playing in the backyard, the corner of which abuts her own backyard. She said she even suspected the children lived in the tents, but her husband said she should leave the family alone.
"I asked my husband, 'Why is he living in tents?"' she said. "And he said, 'Maybe that is how they like to live."'
Dugard was reunited Thursday with her mother as her family learned that their blue-eyed, blonde ponytailed little girl had spent most of her life in captivity. Police said they had no evidence that she had ever reached out to anyone beyond the compound walls.
"She was in good health," Kollar said."But living in a backyard for the past 18 years does take its toll," Kollar said.
For Carl Probyn, the stepfather, this discovery is vindication. Carl stood in his driveway and watched as Jaycee was pulled into the gray car back in 1991, even giving chase on a bicycle -- but quickly found himself the primary suspect in the investigation. He submitted to two lie-detector tests by the FBI, and passed both. The kidnapping, and the suspicion surrounding him, ruined his marriage to Terry, he told the New York Post.
Phillip and Nancy Garrido are scheduled to make their first court appearance in El Dorado County Friday.