Saturday, August 29, 2009

ANTIOCH, Calif. (AP) | The twisted kidnapping case of a girl held for 18 years in a secluded backyard compound took more disturbing turns Friday: Authorities searched the home of her suspected captor for evidence in the slayings of several prostitutes, and new evidence surfaced about missed opportunities to arrest him years ago.

Officers executed a search warrant at Phillip Garrido’s Antioch home for clues in the unsolved slayings, Contra Costa Sheriff’s Department Capt. Daniel Terry said.

Several of the slain women’s bodies were dumped near an industrial park where Garrido, a sex offender, worked during the 1990s.

Garrido and his wife, Nancy, were charged Friday with kidnapping 11-year-old Jaycee Lee Dugard in 1991. Authorities said the couple held her and her two children, father by Garrido, as prisoners in a backyard encampment.

The couple pleaded not guilty to a total of 29 counts, including forcible abduction, rape and false imprisonment. A judge ordered them held without bail.

Garrido appeared stoic and unresponsive during the brief arraignment hearing. His wife cried and put her head in her hands several times.

Contra Costa County Sheriff Warren E. Rupf said a neighbor reported three years ago there were people living in tents in a backyard encampment at the Garrido home.

The deputy who interviewed Garrido in November 2006 gave him a warning that people living outdoors was a code violation. The deputy did not go into the backyard of the house located in an unincorporated area of Antioch, about 45 miles northeast of San Francisco, Sheriff Rupf said.

More suspicion and curiosity on the deputy’s part could have uncovered the secret encampment where Miss Dugard purportedly was held, he said.

They “missed an opportunity” and there are “absolutely no excuses,” Sheriff Rupf said in apologizing to the Dugard family.

Garrido, 58, was arrested Wednesday and is also facing sexual assault charges. Authorities said Nancy Garrido, 54, was with him during the kidnapping in South Lake Tahoe.

Miss Dugard was reunited with her mother, sister and another relative Thursday. They were at an undisclosed San Francisco Bay area hotel, and Miss Dugard’s stepfather, Carl Probyn, said Miss Dugard is doing well under the circumstances.

“She looks very young, she looks very healthy,” Mr. Probyn said on “The Early Show” on CBS.

The neighbor who called authorities three years ago also told them Garrido was psychotic and had a sexual addiction. Sheriff Rupf said the deputy who visited the home did not know he was a registered sex offender, even though the Sheriff’s Department had the information.

Garrido’s father, Manuel Garrido, told the Associated Press Friday that his son is “absolutely out of his mind.” He said Phillip Garrido fell into a bad crowd when he was younger and started taking LSD.

The elder Garrido said the drugs changed him from a good boy, whom everybody loved, to a deranged person.

Speaking by phone from his house in Brentwood, Manuel Garrido said he hasn’t seen his son in years and has never been to the house where the encampment purportedly was set up.

He said his former wife, Phillip Garrido’s mother, has dementia and is not well. She also lived in the Antioch house.

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