Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Backyard Prisoner: The Story of Jaycee Dugard

The First Trial

Phillip Garrido in 1976
Phillip Garrido in 1976

Garrido confessed later that he spent much of the fall of 1976 planning a crime. He stalked a woman, and rented a small Reno warehouse to serve as his stage. He covered the walls with thick rugs to keep things quiet, and hung plastic sheets throughout the building to obscure the view in case someone wandered in. He gathered all the accoutrements of a 70s bachelor pad: a mattress, satin sheets, a fur blanket, colored lights, a projector, wine, hashish and a stack of porn magazines.

On November 26, he ingested four tabs of acid, and attacked the woman he'd been watching. She fought him off and got away. So he dropped by the Harrah's Casino where his wife worked and asked another card dealer for a ride. Katie Callaway Hall remembered him from the casino and agreed to give him a lift; she soon found herself tied up and on her way to Reno as Garrido preached about Jesus Christ. At the warehouse, he raped her over the course of almost six hours. A cop noticed the car outside and that the warehouse's door was ajar, The officer knocked — and a naked, beaten Hall managed to run out.

During his trial, Garrido admitted that he regularly masturbated as he watched girls in front of their elementary school, and that he'd exposed himself to them. He blamed marijuana, cocaine and daily LSD use for his behavior.

He was convicted of kidnap and rape and was sentenced to 50 years in prison.

He was sent to a federal prison in Leavenworth, Kan. His wife divorced him, but he struck up a relationship with a fellow inmate's Texan niece, Nancy Bocanegra, now 54. The prison chaplain officiated at their wedding ceremony in 1981. Garrido used his time to study psychology and theology. He was offered a transfer to a mental health facility, but stayed in Leavenworth to complete his religious training. Prison psychologist J.B. Kielbauch saw in Garrido's zeal as a new Jehovah's Witness an indication that he would be unlikely to commit further crimes.

He served only ten years before being paroled in 1988. If he hadn't been set loose, things would have been different. If his wife hadn't cooperated, things would have been different. As it was, though, Jaycee Dugard would face a nightmare of might-have-beens.

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