Since 1999, when he was placed under California parole
supervision for a 1976 rape in Nevada, Phillip Garrido, 58, was subject to
drug testing, required to wear a GPS device and subject to twice-monthly
visits by his state parole officer. In 2006, a neighbor called 9-1-1 to
report that children were living in Garrido's backyard in squalor, but the
Contra Costa County Sheriff's Department failed to search the registered sex
Last month, UC Berkeley Police Officer Allison Jacobs became
suspicious of Garrido, figured out that he was a registered sex offender who
was accompanied by two adolescent girls, and contacted Garrido's parole
officer. Jacobs told reporters that when she mentioned the girls, whom
Garrido said were his daughters, the parole officer responded, "Garrido
doesn't have any daughters."
Garrido and his 55-year-old wife, Nancy, have been arraigned on
a total of 29 charges of rape and kidnapping in connection with the 1991
abduction of 11-year-old Jaycee Lee Dugard. They have pleaded not guilty.
Throughout the Bay Area, people are wondering how a registered
sex offender under parole supervision could manage to hide Dugard, now 29
and apparently sire her two daughters, ages 11 and 15.
"We are beating ourselves up over this," Contra Costa County
Sheriff Warren Rupf told reporters. He offered his "apologies to the
victims" as he accepted "responsibility" for what did not happen.
Gordon Hinkle of the California Department of Corrections and
Rehabilitation told The Chronicle that Garrido essentially outfoxed parole
officers by building a fence that served as "a false front" for a "secret"
backyard. The department issued a press release that noted that the parole
officer's "diligent questioning and follow up ... led to Garrido revealing
his kidnapping of the adult female."
Some Antioch residents fairly or otherwise, because who would
think there might be an extra backyard? may not consider the parole
department to have been particularly "diligent."
One law that did work here: Megan's Law. Neighbors have told
reporters that they went onto the California Attorney General's Megan's Law
website (www.meganslaw.ca.gov) and discovered that Garrido was a registered
sex offender. They knew to keep their kids away from "Creepy Phil," as he
Some civil libertarians and editorialists have argued for curbs
on Megan's Law. Last month, before this story broke, the Economist
editorialized: "Instead of posting everything on the Internet, names could
be held by the police, who would share them only with those, such as a
school, that need to know." And: "The money that a repeal saves could help
pay for monitoring compulsive molesters more intrusively through ankle
bracelets and the like."
Sorry, but if only experts were in charge, Garrido likely would
be written off as low risk with only a parole violation in 1993 for a
crime for which he was first paroled in 1988.
The best crime-fighting tool, which allowed parents to watch out
for their children and enabled Jacobs to unravel the mystery, was knowledge.