Monday, August 30, 2010

Jaycee Dugard: One Year Later

by Stacy Dittrich

This past Thursday, August 26, 2010, marked the one year anniversary of Jaycee Lee Dugard’s (pictured left) return to her family. As most people know, Jaycee was eleven years old when she was viciously ripped from her family while walking to her bus stop in South Lake Tahoe, California, on June 10, 1991. This occurred as her step-father, Carl Probyn, watched helplessly. For the next 18 years, Dugard’s captors, Philip Craig Garrido, 58, and his wife, Nancy Garrido, 54, held young Jaycee in a wretched, filthy, compound of tents—well hidden behind their Antioch, California, home. For 18 years, Garrido repeatedly raped Jaycee and she eventually bore two of his children.

On August 26, 2009 the nation came to a virtual standstill when the news of Jaycee’s survival spread like wildfire. Garrido, with Jaycee and their two daughters, ages 12 and 15, was eyed suspiciously by the University of Berkeley police officers when he arrived on campus spewing religious rants. After a highly praised interrogation by the officers, Jaycee’s true identity—and her past—was revealed. The detailed information that followed shocked and sickened humanity. Furthermore, people were angry that such an abomination continued for 18 years without detection. California’s parole system came under intense scrutiny for failing to discover Jaycee in Garrido’s hold. Having been on parole for several decades, Garrido routinely played nice with his parole officers and his home was never searched.

In 1992, a report to the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Department revealed a man claiming he saw a young girl matching Jaycee’s description staring at a missing poster of herself at a nearby gas station. The caller claims the girl left with a man matching Garrido’s description in a large yellow van (the same vehicle that was later towed from Garrido’s property in 2009). The tip was never followed-up on. Along with the numerous missed opportunities by parole agents, another tip was phoned into the sheriff’s department by one of Garrido’s neighbors. The neighbor claimed that Garrido, a known sex offender and psychotic, had young children living in his back yard. The deputy that arrived to investigate the complaint never even searched the back yard (pictured right). Thus, the unconscionable lack of justice for Jaycee Dugard resulted in a $20 million  settlement from the state of California. Well deserved, but considering that Jaycee, and her daughters’, lifelong therapy is estimated to cost $7 million I’d say she deserved a hell of a lot more than that.

Now, a year later, Jaycee and her daughters live in seclusion with her mother, Terry Probyn, in Northern California. Many wonder what the last year has been like for the newly reunited family, and what does the future hold. The last year for Jaycee has been an onslaught of new beginnings; she obtained her driver’s license, maintains a journal, baked Christmas cookies with her mother and sister for the first time, and even recently went camping with friends. They live in an undisclosed small neighborhood where it has been reported that their neighbors are “fiercely” protective of Jaycee and her family. Rumors have been floating around for quite some time that Jaycee will be writing a book of her time spent in hell, and her mother’s account of her own nightmare is due to be published in late 2010. Regardless, evil Garrido and his disgusting robot-of-a-wife, Nancy, (pictured right to left) are still incarcerated awaiting trial. Most likely both will die in prison. Hallelujah.

A year later, in the rare moments where Jaycee (now 30) is shown in photographs, she is smiling. Personally, I find that to be an extremely positive sign. Although she and her children have a long road ahead, they are back where they belong. Good luck, Jaycee; you and your family will continuously be in our thoughts and prayers.

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