How Jaycee Dugard Was Found After 18 Years in Isolation

Jaycee Dugard spent 18 years in isolation after being kidnapped at age 11.

Ten years ago, an 18-year-old mystery was solved after kidnapped California resident Jaycee Dugard was saved from the clutches of a husband and wife who abducted her in 1991. 

Jaycee went missing on June 10, 1991, in Meyers, California, as she walked to the school bus stop when she was approached by a silver car and snatched from the street. 

The 11-year-old’s stepfather, Carl Probyn, who was riding a bike near the scene, witnessed her kidnapping and could not catch up to the driver who lured Jaycee into the car. 

The case haunted the family and the town for nearly 20 years until a fateful day in August 2009 brought Jaycee back into the fold. 
During her 18-year life of hell, Jaycee was raped by her kidnapper, Phillip Garrido, and was forced to raise the two children she had with him.

A convicted sex offender, Garrido had spent 11 years in prison before being released on parole in 1988. It was while behind bars at a federal penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas, that he met his wife, Nancy Bocanegra, who was the niece of a fellow inmate. They married in 1981. 

Soon after his release, the Garridos moved to Antioch, a suburb of Sacramento, not too far from where Jaycee's family lived. It was on the property of this home that he built the backyard from hell

Just three years after his release from prison he abducted Jaycee.

Jaycee was hidden from view in the backyard of the Garridos’ home for nearly two decades. In their backyard was a labyrinth that featured two sheds, two tents, a primitive outhouse, and a shower. One of the sheds was also soundproofed. The secret compound was so concealed from view that law enforcement did not find it during searches of the property in 2006 and 2008. 

Phillip and Nancy owned a small printing business during this time. Cheyvonne Molino, a client of the Garridos' printing business, spoke to Inside Edition in 2009 and said that things were unusual with the family. 

Molino said he recalled asking one of the Garridos' daughters what church they went to. Unbeknownst to him, the girl was actually Jaycee's daughter, not Nancy's. 

“She said, ‘We go to church in our basement.’ I said, ‘How many people are in your church?’ She said five. I said, ‘OK, who’s the pastor?’ ‘My dad.’ I was a little shocked,” Molino said. 

On Aug. 24, 2009, Phillip and his daughters arrived on the campus of UC Berkley where he inquired about holding events for his religious organization. Lisa Campbell, one of the members of the campus staff, told him to return the following day but felt suspicious about him. Campbell asked Berkeley police officer Ally Jacobs to conduct a background check on Garrido. 

When it was discovered that Garrido was a registered sex offender, his parole officer was contacted. Throughout his parole, Phillip maintained he was childless. When his parole officer was informed that two children had accompanied him to the campus, Phillip was ordered to attend a parole meeting. 

Nancy joined her husband as did Jaycee and the two young girls. Garrido initially insisted that Jaycee and the two girls were relatives but began to crack under questioning from his parole officer. He and Nancy were later arrested and charged with 29 felony counts including rape and false imprisonment.  

Authorities raided the Garrido home and discovered the silver-colored car used in Jaycee's abduction. 

“They just kind of seemed out there,” a neighbor told Inside Edition of the Garridos in 2009. 

“He got on that stuff and that was the end,” Phillip's father told Inside Edition in 2009, blaming his son’s issues on drug abuse. “Couldn’t talk to him no matter what you said.” 

Jaycee Dugard, now 29 in 2009, was reunited with her birth mother. “She was in good health but living in a backyard for the past 18 years does take its toll,” Fred Collar of the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department said at a press conference after Jaycee was found. 

Phillip was sentenced to 431 years to life in prison in June 2011. Nancy was sentenced to 36 years to life, also in June 2011. They are both up for parole in 2034.

Jaycee has maintained a low profile in the years since, releasing two books, 2011’s “A Stolen Life” and 2016’s “Freedom: My Book of Firsts.” 

In 2016, Jaycee gave an exclusive television interview to ABC’s “20/20,” where she talked about life now.

“It's taken a lot of time,” she said of the healing process. “It hasn't happened overnight.”

Dugard also told ABC at the time that if the daughters she had with Phillip ever wanted to see him, "I wouldn't be OK with it, but I wouldn't stop them.”