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Page last updated at 09:04 GMT, Saturday, 29 August 2009 10:04 UK

Police 'sorry' for kidnap blunder

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

Police in the US have apologised for missing an opportunity in 2006 to find kidnap victim Jaycee Lee Dugard who was freed after 18 years in captivity.

Phillip and Nancy Garrido have denied abducting Ms Dugard when she was 11 and keeping her in a shed as a sex slave.

Police are now 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.

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

Berkeley police officer Ally Jacobs on a hunch which led to the discovery

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

Mr 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.

Ms Dugard was bundled into a car in the county in 1991 as she waited at a bus stop on her way to school.

Bus stop abduction

Police visited the Garrido California home in November 2006, when a neighbour alerted them to suspicious behaviour there.

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

"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.

The suspects are being held without bail and a further court hearing has been scheduled for 14 September.

'Like a marriage'

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

Her step-father, Carl Probyn, saw his step-daughter being snatched from a bus stop in 1991.

His now estranged wife told him 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 said: "Jaycee has strong feelings with this guy. She really feels it's almost like a marriage."

'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.

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"

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, said she often heard children playing in the backyard, and wondered why they were living in tents

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, formerly 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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