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Page last updated at 19:49 GMT, Friday, 28 August 2009 20:49 UK

US kidnap survivor 'doing great'

Jaycee Lee Dugard in a family photo released by Carl Probyn

A woman freed in California 18 years after being kidnapped at the age of 11 is said to have had a happy reunion with her mother.

Jaycee Lee Dugard had been living in her alleged kidnapper's home in Antioch, near San Francisco, after her abduction 200 miles (322km) away.

She and the two children he allegedly fathered with her are "doing great", stepfather Carl Probyn said.

The suspect and his wife are in custody and due to appear in court shortly.

Mr Probyn said his ex-wife had been struck by how young Jaycee looked.

Sheriff Warren E Rupf said police missing an opportunity to rescue Jaycee in 2006

He and Jaycee's mother divorced after the abduction and he told US media how he had endured years of "hell", under suspicion of having played a part in his stepdaughter's kidnapping.

Ms Dugard was forced into a car on her way to school in front of his eyes. He had tried in vain to give chase on a bicycle.

Phillip Garrido, 58, is being held on suspicion of various kidnapping and sex charges. He is already a convicted rapist and kidnapper.

His wife Nancy, 54, was allegedly with him during the kidnapping in South Lake Tahoe, a town in California's Sierra Nevada Mountains.

'Missed opportunity'

Ms Dugard has retained custody of her children and is staying at a motel in the San Francisco region, according to the US authorities.

Phillip Garrido
Phillip Garrido allegedly fathered two children with Ms Dugard, police say

She, her two daughters, her sister, her mother and another relative were at the reunion on Thursday, Mr Probyn said.

"I think they're pretty happy," he added.

In interviews on NBC, ABC and CBS on Friday morning, Mr Probyn said the most surprising thing to his wife had been that Ms Dugard still looked very young.

"She looks very young, she looks very healthy," Mr Probyn said. "She told me that Jaycee feels really guilty for bonding with this guy. She has a real guilt trip."

He said he was struggling to understand why his stepdaughter had not come forward earlier.

OTHER SOLVED ABDUCTIONS
Elisabeth Fritzl (Austria): Held 1984, aged 18; found 2008
Shawn Hornbeck (US): Abducted 2002, aged 11; found 2007
Natascha Kampusch (Austria): Abducted 1998, aged 10; escaped 2006
Elizabeth Smart (US): Abducted 2002, aged 14; found 2003
Steven Staynor (US): Abducted 1972, aged 14; escaped 1980

"I don't know if she was brainwashed, I don't know if she was walking around on the street, I don't know if she was locked up under key for 18 years, I have no idea," he said.

Police have admitted that they missed an opportunity to uncover what was happening at Mr Garrido's home in November 2006, when a neighbour alerted them to suspicious behaviour there.

"The caller said Garrido was psychotic and had a sexual addiction," Sheriff Warren Rupf told reporters.

But the investigating police officer only spoke to Mr Garrido and did not enter his property to carry out a search.

"I'm first in line to offer organisational criticism and to offer my apologies to the victims and accept responsibility for having missed an earlier opportunity," said Sheriff Rupf.

'A disgusting thing'

Jaycee's stepfather gives details to ABC's Good Morning America

Fred Kollar, undersheriff in El Dorado County where South Lake Tahoe is located, described finding a makeshift compound in the backyard consisting of sheds, tents and outbuildings.

The true identity of the backyard's inhabitants only emerged after Mr Garrido was called in along with his "family" for a parole office hearing on Wednesday.

Suspicions had been aroused when Mr Garrido, who has a printing business, was seen acting suspiciously towards the children as he tried to enter the University of California, Berkeley, campus to hand out religious literature.

Diane Doty, a neighbour, has said she often heard children playing in the backyard.

"I asked my husband, 'Why is he [Garrido] living in tents?'" she said on Thursday.

"And he said, 'Maybe that is how they like to live.'"

The alleged abductor has himself told a US TV channel that his story was "heart-warming".

"It's a disgusting thing that took place with me at the beginning, but I turned my life completely around," Mr Garrido told KCRA television from El Dorado County jail.

Court records show that Mr Garrido was convicted of kidnapping and raping a 25-year-old woman in South Lake Tahoe in 1976.

Layout of the back garden where Jaycee Lee Dugard is said to have lived

US BLOGGERS REACT TO THE KIDNAPPING

Unless Dugard was kept under lock and key for the entire 18 years of her captivity, over the next few days, certainly there will be an abundance of pieces about Stockholm syndrome and wondering why she didn't ask for help before... If Dugard's captors gave her any freedom, locals will start piping up about how she went to the grocery store or to the park, suggesting that she could have fled at any time.

Torie Bosch, blogging at DoubleX, speculates about the reasons why Jaycee Dugard did not escape.

Over the last 18 years I have often thought about what happened to Jaycee. Every time there was a news report about the discovery of bones in California, I would follow up to see if it was the remains of Jaycee. It never was. Over 18 years my mind wandered back to me sitting in Jaycee's bedroom with Terry, how neat and tidy it was, ready for her return. I hadn't thought about Jaycee in a while, until today.

Anthony Batson, former a producer for America's Most Wanted, remembers the day he interviewed Jaycee Dugard's parents.

Though the investigation is now ongoing, perhaps more details will emerge [about Nancy Garrido's] role in this 18-year saga. Was it fear that kept Nancy silent? Or does this just go to show how some women can overlook the monster in their husbands?

YourTango's Julie Leung turns the spotlight on Phillips Garrido's wife.

The fact that various acquaintances thought Garrido was crazy and actually saw Dugard and her daughters reveals how willing we sometimes are to ignore the strange behavior of others, and how this willingness can sometimes allow criminals to operate with impunity for years.

Jezebel's Anna N wonders whether Mr Garrido's neighbours could have been more vigilant.



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