Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Backyard Prisoner: The Story of Jaycee Dugard


Jaycee Dugard at age 11
Jaycee Dugard at age 11

A girl disappears. Police can't figure out who took her, and they can't find a body. The investigation goes cold. Her family waits and wonders, torn between hope and resignation. And then, after years, she turns up — with children of her own, fathered by her alleged abductor and rapist during the nearly 20 years he and his wife imprisoned her in their backyard.

That's the story of Jaycee Dugard, abducted on her way to school in South Lake Tahoe in 1991, and accidentally discovered in the Bay Area in 2009.

And it's the story of Phillip Garrido, a registered sex offender still on parole. His neighbors thought he was a dangerous creep; his family can't find much good to say about him; and he was under the watch of the California justice system the whole time. Yet somehow, if investigators are correct in their allegations, he was able not only to abduct a young girl — but to hide her in plain sight without coming to the attention of authorities, including the parole officers who made routine visits to the Garrido home.

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