In Brief

Jaycee Dugard and the parallels with Fritzl and McCann

The Californian’s abduction in 1991 was similar to the 2007 disappearance of Madeleine McCann, from the media frenzy surrounding the missing girls to the desperate appeals to find them

Jaycee Lee Dugard

The extraordinary ordeal of Jaycee Lee Dugard, the 29-year-old Californian who emerged alive yesterday nearly two decades after being grabbed by a listed sex offender in South Lake Tahoe, California, has obvious parallels with the recent case of the Austrian, Elizabeth Fritzl.

Fritzl was held captive by her sadistic father in a cellar beneath the family home for 24 years. She was repeatedly raped and forced to bear seven children. Josef Fritzl was sentenced to life imprisonment in March this year.

Jaycee Dugard (left) was kidnapped by a total stranger, but otherwise her ordeal was not dissimilar. Phillip Garrido, now in custody, kept her hidden in a backyard compound of his home in Antioch, north of San Francisco, where he apparently raped her and gave her two children - the first when she was still 14.

Neither of Jaycee's children, now aged 11 and 15, has ever been to school or visited a doctor. It is not yet clear what condition they are in.

But there are also parallels with the case of Madeleine McCann (right). For while the name Jaycee Dugard may not have the same resonance in Britain, the media frenzy in California at the time of her disappearance was similar to that generated in Britain when four-year-old Madeleine disappeared while her parents were holidaying in Portugal two summers ago.

The key difference is that while Madeleine simply vanished, Jaycee Dugard's abduction was witnessed. Yet, despite a widespread campaign, complete with artist's impressions of the man and woman who abducted her, she was never found by police until this week.

The First Post has pieced together what happened when Dugard went missing:

THE ABDUCTION

Eleven-year-old Jaycee's stepfather, Carl Probyn, watched her walk down the road to catch the school bus in South Lake Tahoe, California, on the morning of June 10, 1991.

A grey mid-size car, possibly a Mercury Monarch, driven by an identified man now known to be Phillip Garrido, made a sudden U-turn and pulled up beside Jaycee. She screamed as a woman passenger, now assumed to be Nancy Garrido, forced the girl her into the car. It was the last time she was ever seen until this week.

Carl Probyn heard Jaycee scream, saw what was happening, grabbed his bicycle and tried to chase after the car, but to no avail. He said yesterday: "After 18 years, you do give up hope. This is a miracle."

THE EARLY DAYS

Wild rumours spread quickly through the small town of South Lake Tahoe. Typical was one about a man who stopped at a petrol station the day Jaycee was taken and remarked, "We found a virgin to sacrifice."

The first and obvious suspect was Jaycee's biological father. But he was quickly ruled out as a suspect: it transpired that at the time of the abduction, he had no knowledge of where Jaycee and her mother were living.

Despite national TV exposure, including items on America's Most Wanted, no real leads emerged.

Jaycee's disappearance devastated her mother, Terry Probyn, and she and Carl Probyn eventually separated.

THE SUSPECTS

There have been various suspects down the years - though the names of Philip and Nancy Garrido have never appeared among them.

James Anthony Daveggio, sentenced to death in 2002 for the murder in 1997 of Vanessa Lei Swanson, was a suspect. Swanson had been abducted and raped before being killed. Her remains were found only five miles from the site of Jaycee Dugard's abduction. But Daveggio was ruled out by an FBI investigation.

Stephen Kiesle, a defrocked priest, became a suspect in 2002, more than a decade after the abduction. Police using sniffer dogs and radar equipment to search his garden after he was arrested for molesting three girls at the Catholic church in Fremont, California. He was ruled out after the search came to nothing.

Brian David Mitchell and his wife Wanda Barzee became suspects briefly in 2003 after 15-year-old Elizabeth Smart of Salt Lake City, Utah was rescued having been kidnapped and held captive for nine months by Mitchell.

♦ HOW THE REAL KIDNAPPERS WERE FOUND

Phillip Garrido, 58, a convicted rapist, and his wife, Nancy Garrido, 55, are being held in custody on suspicion of kidnapping to commit rape.

It appears that Jaycee Dugard and her family have an alert campus police officer at the University of California at Berkeley to thank for her freedom after 18 years.

The officer became suspicious of Garrido who was handing out religious leaflets to students on Tuesday, accompanied by two girls - now known to be those he fathered with his kidnap victim.

The campus police officer checked Garrido's background and discovered he was a listed sex offender, on parole for a vicious rape and kidnapping in Nevada. Garrido was ordered to visit his parole officer the next day.

When Garrido arrived on Wednesday at the parole office in Concord, California, he was accompanied by his wife, two girls and a woman he referred to as Allissa. Never having seen 'Allissa' or the two girls before, the parole officer called in the police.

Allissa then explained that she was Jaycee Dugard, and that the two girls were hers and Garrido's. Police raided Garrido's home at Antioch and found the backyard compound where his kidnap victim and the two children had been living.

♦ HOW JAYCEE AND HER DAUGHTERS LIVED

Jaycee Dugard and her two daughters were kept in what local Sheriff Fred Kollar called "a hidden backyard within a backyard" behind the Garrido’s home in Antioch. This was concealed from neighbouring houses by tall trees and a 6ft high fence.

For part of the time that she was held hostage, Dugard was locked up in a cramped 10ft by 10ft shed in the yard, which was separated from the rest of the Garrido’s garden by a tarpaulin. This outhouse was sound-proofed and could only be opened from the outside.

After her daughters were born, Dugard's living quarters were expanded to include a second shed and two small tents. There was an electricity supply from cables running from the main house, and a rudimentary shower and toilet.

♦ GARRIDO'S STATEMENT

In a bizarre television interview given on Thursday from the county jail, Garrido told KCRA-TV in Sacramento: "Wait until you hear the story of what took place at this house... You are going to be completely impressed.

"It's a disgusting thing that took place with me at the beginning. But I turned my life completely around, and to be able to understand that, you have to start there."

Garrido went on: "You're going to find the most powerful story coming from the witness, the victim - you wait. If you take this a step at a time, you're going to fall over backwards and in the end, you're going to find the most powerful heartwarming story."

The US media will have to wait for more information from the police, and from Dugard herself, before they can work out what on earth Garrido was driving at.

♦ MCCANN STATEMENT

Clarence Mitchell, spokesman for Kate and Gerry McCann, told the Mirror today that the news of Jaycee Dugard's freedom had given the McCanns hope that their missing daughter Madeleine might still be be found.

"They are extremely pleased," said Mitchell. "It further strengthens their determination never to stop looking for their missing daughter."

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