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Page last updated at 07:51 GMT, Saturday, 29 August 2009 08:51 UK

Couple deny California abduction

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Phillip Garrido and his spouse Nancy denied all charges in court

A man and his wife have denied abducting California woman Jaycee Lee Dugard when she was a child and holding her in their home for 18 years.

Phillip and Nancy Garrido denied 29 charges including kidnap, rape and false imprisonment when they appeared briefly in court in El Dorado County.

Ms Dugard was bundled into a car in the county in 1991 on her way to school.

Police are also searching the Garrido home in Antioch for clues to several prostitute murders in the 1990s.

Several bodies in the unsolved murders were dumped near an industrial park where Mr Garrido worked.

'Like a marriage'

Ms Dugard and two children she bore in captivity in Antioch, 200 miles (320km) away from where she was abducted, were freed this week.

Jaycee Lee Dugard in a family photo released by Carl Probyn
No pictures have been released of Ms Dugard as she looks today

They are staying at a motel near San Francisco after being reunited with Ms Dugard's mother, Terri Probyn.

Ms Probyn told her ex-husband, Carl Probyn, that Ms Dugard appeared young but healthy.

She added that her daughter felt "really guilty for bonding with this guy", Mr Probyn told CBS news.

Mr Probyn, who saw his step-daughter being snatched from a bus stop in 1991, said: "Jaycee has strong feelings with this guy. She really feels it's almost like a marriage."

Police apology

Phillip Garrido, 58, a convicted rapist and kidnapper, is suspected of fathering Ms Dugard's children while he kept her in his backyard.

He and his wife Nancy, 54, are accused of abducting her in the town of South Lake Tahoe, in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

CHARGES AGAINST THE GARRIDOS
Kidnapping a child under 14
Kidnapping for sexual purposes
False imprisonment by violence
Six counts each of forcible rape
Seven counts each of "forcible lewd act on a child"

She was forced into a car as Mr Probyn tried in vain to give chase on a bicycle.

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'

Fred Kollar, undersheriff in El Dorado County, 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.

Sheriff Warren E Rupf: "We missed an opportunity to bring earlier closure"

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.

A judge El Dorado County Superior Court in Placerville on Friday ordered them held without bail and a further court hearing has been scheduled for 14 September.

Mr Garrido appeared calm and unresponsive during the brief court appearance. Mrs Garrido, seated a short distance away from her husband, sobbed and put her head in her hands several times.

Both were dressed in red prison uniforms with their hands shackled to their waists.

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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