Jaycee Lee Dugard was just an 11-year-old girl when her life was turned upside down. She was kidnapped while walking to her local bus stop in 1991. She would be held captive for nearly two decades before she was found and let free in 2009.
This story captivated millions from all around the world. It was revealed that her abductors, Phillip and Nancy Garrido, had kept her in a tent in the backyard. The events that happened in that tent are haunting, but we dive into them all in this article.
A Bright, Young Girl
Born in 1980 in Arcadia, California, Jaycee was a bright young girl full of life. She enjoyed a regular childhood with her mom Terry Dugard. Her father didn’t even know she existed as he was gone by the time Terry even knew she was pregnant.
Terry had another child in 1990 with a different man, named Carl. Her name was Shayna. Sadly, Jaycee wouldn’t get to watch her little sister grow up.
She Spent Time With Her Little Sister
Jaycee was around for the first 18 months of her little sister’s life. She recalls teaching her how to jump up in her crib just days before she would be kidnapped. Jaycee and her stepfather never really got along.
Jaycee said that she was tormented by him. It was something that she never saw any other stepfather do to other children. She could never really understand why, but she remained positive nonetheless.
They Moved For Safety Reasons
The Kidnapping itself didn’t happen too far away from Meyers, California. It was a town that was deemed to be pretty safe by parents. The Dugard family had moved to the city just a year before the kidnapping occurred. They were moving from a slightly bigger city, Arcadia, so it took some getting used to.
In a sad moment of irony, the family had moved to the smaller city for safety reasons.
The Last Day
The day she was kidnapped, Jaycee didn’t even want to go to school. She told her mom that she was feeling sick but didn’t want to make a big fuss out of it because she was worried about what he stepdad would think.
She set out on her own. Her mom didn’t like when she walked to school by herself, but Carl didn’t see an issue with it. That was the last day they’d see her for 20 years.
She Was Stunned
Jaycee is an avid animal lover. She befriended a neighborhood dog that would come with her on her walks to school every now and then. She didn’t notice a car coming up behind her as she was daydreaming about what she was going to do that summer.
The car pulled up and a man asked her for directions. Within seconds Jaycee fell to the ground as he pulled out a taser and stunned her.
She Was So Confused
Jaycee remembers falling to the ground and trying to push herself away from the road with her hands. Phillip got out of the car and very quickly put her into the back of the car. Jaycee didn’t have any time to be scared, she was so confused as to what just happened.
She said that her brain felt fuzzy and she just wanted to crawl back in bed. But, little did she know, that wasn’t going to happen.
She Couldn’t Scream
The whole car ride she was struggling to get herself free. She was kicking and punching, but Nancy Garrido, in the back of the car, was holding her down and wouldn’t give her any space to move.
The car ride was an exhausting three hours. Jaycee remembers falling in and out of sleep. She could hear Phillip in the front seat yelling in excitement about the stunt that they just pulled.
Her New Home
Upon arrival at the Garrido home, Jaycee was forced to be quiet. She was told that she would be killed and tortured if she had made any noise at all. She was still in a state of shock, and was forced into a bathroom by Phillip.
He made her take off her clothing. At first, she refused to do so, but then he got physical with her and stripped her down.
The Powerful Ring
At one point, she was naked with just a ring on her pinky finger which would end up being one of the only items that she would have that would remind her of life before the abduction.
He got her into the shower with him and forced her to touch him. She remembers getting incredibly sad and saying that her family isn’t wealthy, but they’d be willing to pay a ransom for her.
The Manipulation Was Real
Her cries to Phillip would go unwarranted. He handcuffed her and then led her to the backyard, a place where she would spend most of her years. Jaycee mentioned that Phillip didn’t assault her the first week. He was hands-off and was bringing her fast food and soda to her open-air prison.
She remembers him even making her laugh a bit when he would imitate different accents from around the world.
The First Of Many
She eventually realized that this was just a way for him to manipulate her into thinking that he was a good person with good intentions. But, after a week passed, the first assault occurred. She was assaulted countless times by Phillip.
Often times, the days he would treat her the best were the days that he would end up assaulting her at the end. Jaycee got used to the abuse, and was able to detach.
He Had A Troubled Past
She was able to tell herself stories in her head while it was happening. Phillip had a troubled past. He had previously demonstrated tendencies of sexual abuse toward minors and was arrested and charged for it.
He was previously married to a woman named Christine Murphy, who says that she was abused by him. He would force her into group sex activities with strangers and eventually stabbed her in the face.
They Met In Prison
He was also previously charged with the kidnap and rape of a 25-year-old woman. He was sentenced to 50 years and was sent to Leavenworth prison in Kansas where he would go on to meet his future wife.
Nancy was in the medical profession and was visiting her uncle in prison when she met Phillip. He was released on parole and they eventually ended up moving in together. The destruction they would cause is unthinkable.
She Wasn’t Allowed To Speak Her Name
They kept Jaycee as a prisoner for 18 years. She was not allowed to speak her name. She was kept in a soundproofed room in the backyard for around six weeks before being switched to one of the many other shacks found in the backyard.
It was the perfect prison for Jaycee, whose screams couldn’t be heard by anyone. Phillip was a heavy drug user and would go on rants to Dugard about “demon angels” that he sees.
The Moments Of Humility
He claimed to be chosen by God to do what he was doing. There would be moments of humility when he would break down and cry. He would apologize to Jaycee for what he was doing to her, and she would be hopeful for a release.
At the same time, he would threaten her about the possibility of selling her to someone who would treat her much worse than he was.
She Became Dependant
The Garridos were incredibly manipulative. They told Jaycee that her family didn’t love her and that they were really the only ones who cared about her. Nancy didn’t officially meet Jaycee until a few months after she was captive.
She also broke down and cried about what they were doing to her. Jaycee said that Nancy was evil, but at the same time, she became dependant on her and really didn’t want to anger or annoy her.
She Had To Make Her Home
The backyard was a right to be seen. It was secret, and no one else was allowed to go back there. It was filled with a series of tents and sheds that Jaycee would move back and forth from.
She was given lamps, bookcases, drawers, and other things to keep her occupied. She also had two children while she was in the tents, both of them were Phillip’s. She and her children continued to live in a tent.
She Needed A New Name
Jaycee tried to make the area that she lived in feel like home, and she eventually started planting flowers and even had her own pet spider to keep her company at dark times.
She wasn’t allowed to say her name. One time, she wrote her name in her diary and Nancy and Phillip had a fit. They made her rip it out and change her name to something else. She decided on Allissa.
She Had Two Daughters
She loved the actress Alyssa Milano, because Who’s The Boss? was one of her favorite things to watch. She was pregnant twice and ended up having two daughters. She found out because for the first time, at the age of 13, she was given a home cooked meal.
The Garridos believed that she was pregnant, and Nancy would be able to help as she was a nurse. Her first pregnancy was in 1994, and her second in 1997.
Stockholm Syndrome Was Real
The kids were told that Jaycee was their sister, and Nancy was their mother. But, they spent all of their time with Jaycee. She was extremely protective over them. The birth of her baby was extremely painful, but she was so happy because she knew she wouldn’t be alone anymore.
As time went by, she became attached to her captures. She had severe Stockholm Syndrome. The Garridos had a growing trust in her.
The Trust Was Building
As the couple saw that Jaycee was becoming more and more compliant, they eventually removed handcuffs from her. She was even allowed in the house at some points, and would tend to their garden.
Jaycee was even given a job at the printing business that Phillip ran. She was under the name Alissa, and would speak to clients on occasion. She had access to the company telephone and internet. She was used as an artist and designer.
The Man Who Saw It
Carl Probyn saw the abduction take place. He was at the family home and saw two people inside a grey car pull up by Jaycee. Carl grabbed the nearest bike and chased after, but it wasn’t enough.
For a long time, he was seen as the main suspect in the case. They ruled him out after he passed a lie detector test. The search effort was launched just hours after she went missing.
It Was A Quick Media Hit
The story quickly became a media sensation, and tens of thousands of posters were put up with Jaycee’s face on them. Her mom started an organization called Jaycee’s Hope, and t-shirts were sold all over the US. A cash reward was offered to anyone who had important information.
August 24th, 2009, was the first of three days that would see her captivity come to an end. Garrido visited FBI offices to share an essay he wrote on religion and sexuality.
The Police Became Suspicious
He claimed that he cleared up lifelong sexual behavior issues and wanted his solution to be public. He was accompanied by Jaycee’s daughters (his daughters too). The police noticed his erratic behavior and the girls looked submissive and scared.
The police did a background check on him and found out he was a sex offender with a history of kidnapping. She noticed the girls looked pale and “odd”. They were both very stiff.
He Brought His Whole Family
The police contacted his parole officer, and he said that Phillip has no daughters on record. So, they set off for his house. They handcuffed him immediately after arrival. They searched his place, but there were no little girls in sight.
After questioning, Phillip said those girls were a relative’s daughter that he was taking around. The next day, he brought his whole family to the police, Jaycee included.
She Reinforced His Story
Jaycee was introduced as Alissa, the relative that let Phillip take her daughters for the day. Dugard reinforced Phillip’s story and called him a “changed man” who was always nice to her kids.
The police started asking for some identification from her and she got defensive. She was so close to freedom, but she was so brainwashed that she couldn’t take advantage of the situation. Eventually, Phillip confessed to what really happened after his story didn’t check out.
Free, At Last
She was finally free. She was able to tell her story to the police. She couldn’t even say her own name. She had to write “Jaycee” on a piece of paper. She still suffered from the trauma and was incredibly nervous for the reunion with her mom and sister.
She barely slept the night before. She was worried that her mom might not accept her daughters or maybe develop a hatred toward her.
Would Her Mom Recognize Her?
She was worried that she wouldn’t recognize her mom, or her mom wouldn’t recognize her. When she stepped through the door to see her mother, she felt safe again, for the first time in nearly two decades.
The pair cried in each other’s arms. They didn’t let go for what seemed like a year. Her mom mentioned how she used to talk to the moon at night, and pretend she was talking to Jaycee.
How Did She Go Unnoticed?
But, there were so many times that she could’ve been saved and she wasn’t. Police should’ve investigated him right off the bat. He was a sex offender with a history of kidnapping and abuse.
A man also called police a year after she was taken and said he had seen Jaycee in a yellow van at a gas station. Police didn’t look much further into it. A yellow van was found on the Garrido’s property.
The Police Were Negligent
In 2006, a neighbor called the police on the Garridos after they saw children living in tents in the backyard. The caller also said that Phillip was weird and had sexual addictions. The police went to follow up, talked to Phillip, and didn’t even attempt to go in the back.
There was a moment during a routine check up on Phillip that a police officer actually stepped out into the backyard, probably just a few feet away from Jaycee and her children.
The Signs Were There
There was a time when a parole officer saw a little girl in Phillip’s home and he said that it was his niece. There was no follow up from the parole officer. All he would’ve had to do was call Phillip’s brother who didn’t have any children.
He had more than a dozen parole officers over the time of the abduction, but many of them just wouldn’t show up or take drug tests.
They Didn’t Do Enough
There’s also a satellite tracking system that the parole officers didn’t use enough. If they kept tabs on it, they would’ve seen Phillip in the backyard an abnormal amount of time.
After Jaycee was found, the local police department issued an apology and took all the blame for the lack of search in the 2006 backyard inspection. The backyard was set up so that you wouldn’t be suspicious of it.
One neighbor, Helen Boyer, was shocked to learn about the tragic events. She said that the Garridos always seemed like nice people. She had known them for nearly a decade and admitted to seeing three girls in the backyard but didn’t think anything of it.
She knew Phillip was on the sex offender’s list but figured the kids were friends of Nancy’s. She has deep regret for not putting the pieces together.
It Was Over For Phillip
Phillip and Nancy pleaded not guilty to the charges of kidnapping, rape, and false imprisonment. Their bail was set at $30 million, and during his hearing, Phillip’s attorney requested that his client be evaluated by a psychiatrist.
A couple of years would go by, and it wasn’t until February of 2011 that any news would come in this case. Nancy’s lawyer revealed that both Phillip and Nancy had confessed to their crimes.
Nancy Tried To Get A Reduced Sentence
Both of the defense lawyers were trying to negotiate a plea deal to avoid the case going to trial. A trail would just prolong the inevitable and getting a plea would probably result in the best option for all of the parties involved.
For Nancy, it was clear that her husband was going to be going away for a long time. Her lawyer was hoping to negotiate a 30-year sentence instead of life in prison.
They Both Ended Up Pleading Guilty
But, in a weird turn of events, instead of following the confession with a guilty plea, they both decided to plead not guilty on all charges. It came as a shock to everyone and the proceedings would continue.
A few months later, they both would end up pleading guilty. Phillip got 431 years in prison, while Nancy got 36 years. Jaycee Lee was not in court during the time of their sentencing.
Jaycee Didn’t Show Up
She didn’t want to spend another second of her life in their presence. In July 2010, Jaycee and the State of California agreed to a $20 million settlement.
The media attention on this case afterward was incredible. Jaycee was taking small steps trying to get back to having a normal life. They didn’t have to deal with too many paparazzi photos. Jaycee couldn’t believe that she was free. It didn’t seem real to her.
She Would Need Some Time To Adjust
She was in the process of writing a book about her experiences, and said that recalling all the horrible things that happened to her was freeing. She’s been in therapy since her release and loves what it does for her.
She had to learn how to speak up for herself and gain back her self-belief. Her recovery wasn’t going to happen overnight — it was going to take some time.
Her mom was ecstatic, obviously. She knew that the journey was going to be long, and it was going to be tough, but nothing could be worse than the last 20 years without her daughter.
Jaycee learned to drive at age 29. The symbol of hope for Jaycee was a pinecone. It was the last thing she touched before she was captured by Phillip. It was her last physical sensation of freedom.
A Life To Live
She wrote and released a best-selling book based on her life. Her memoir was published, a book titled “A Stolen Life: A Memoir” that topped the NYT Best Seller list and stayed there for a month and a half.
She released another book in 2016, “Freedom: My Book of Firsts” that focused on her life since the abduction. This book was also very popular and was much happier and inspiring than the last one she had written.