The man who allegedly abducted American schoolgirl Jaycee Lee Dugard almost two decades ago has admitted that he did a “disgusting thing” but went on to defend himself, saying the public would be surprised by the "heart-warming story".
By Alex Spillius in Washington
Published: 8:15AM BST 28 Aug 2009
Convicted sex offender Phillip Garrido, 58, is being held on suspicion of various kidnapping and sex charges relating to the disappearance of Miss Dugard, who was aged 11 when she was snatched from her school bus stop in 1991.
Mr Garrido, gave a bizarre and sometimes incoherent phone interview to KCRA-TV from the El Dorado County jail.
According to investigators Mr Garrido allegedly raped Miss Dugard and fathered two children with her, the first when she was about 14. Along with Miss Dugard, who is now 29, the children, both girls now 11 and 15, were also kept hidden away from the world in the backyard compound of the Garrido house in California.
In the interview, Mr Garrido he said he had not admitted to the kidnapping and that he had turned his life around since the birth of his first daughter 15 years ago.
"Wait until you hear the story of what took place at this house," Mr Garrido said.
"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.
"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 heart-warming story."
His wife, Nancy Garrido, 54, has also been arrested, and authorities have alleged she was with Mr Garrido, who is on lifetime parole, during the kidnapping in South Lake Tahoe.
Miss Dugard, now aged 29, was reunited with her mother on Thursday after revealing during an interview with her kidnapper's parole officer that she was the victim of one of California's oldest unsolved crimes. It was her first known appearance in public since her abduction.
She disappeared when a man and a woman pulled her kicking and screaming into a car at a school bus stop just yards from her home in South Lake Tahoe.
After nearly two decades, the woman, who has undergone DNA tests and interviews, was last night in a motel meeting her natural mother for the first time since she disappeared.
But amid joy at the family reunion, painful details of the woman's ordeal began to emerge.
Police saidMr Garrido, a 58-year-old registered sex offender and religious fanatic, and his wife have been arrested in connection with the case and were expected to be charged on Friday with rape, kidnapping, lascivious behaviour with a minor and other offences.
Police said they kept Miss Dugard and her two daughters aged 11 and 15, in a "backyard within a backyard".
Neither Miss Dugard nor her children had ever been to school or visited a doctor. The three were in good health, but "living in a backyard for 18 years does take its toll", said Fred Kollar, El Dorado County undersheriff.
The events that led to Miss Dugard's identity being revealed began on Tuesday when Mr Garrido took the young girls with him to try and enter the campus of the University of California, Berkeley, to enquire how to stage a religious meeting.
Mr Garrido operated a blog titled "Voices Revealed", and operated a home church to espouse his doctrine.
Part of one blog entry read: "The Creator has given me the ability to speak in the tongue of angels in order to provide a wake-up call that will in time include the salvation of the entire world."
The interaction between him and the girls aroused the suspicion of police guards, who ran a background check and found he was still on parole for a 1971 conviction for child rape.
The next day he appeared for a meeting at the parole office with his wife, the two young girls and a woman called Allissa. "During the course of those discussions it became clear that Allissa was in fact Jaycee Dugard," said Mr Kollar. The Garridos were arrested on the spot.
Dozens of investigators collected evidence at the couple's cordoned off home on Walnut Avenue in Antioch, near San Francisco Bay, where Miss Dugard was held. Police believe she was taken there directly after her abduction.
Terry Probyn, Jaycee's mother, was flying to northern California from her home in the south of the state, after first receiving a call on Wednesday from the FBI telling her that a woman had turned up at police station claiming to be her daughter.
Her stepfather, Carl Probyn, who witnessed her abduction, said Jaycee's reappearance was "definitely a miracle".
"You lose hope and you just want to recover something, you know?" he said, adding that the FBI had told Mrs Probyn that they "have Jaycee and the people that did this".
Mother and daughter had first spoken on Wednesday afternoon, he said.
"Jaycee remembers everything," he said. "They talked back and forth and she had the right answers to all my wife's questions."
Mrs Probyn and her 19-year-old daughter Shayna, Miss Dugard's half-sister, took a flight early on Thursday to the town of Concord to be reunited.
"I'm feeling great! ... It's like winning the lotto. I've gone through hell," Mr Probyn said, conceding that police and even members of the extended family had regarded him with suspicion for months after the kidnapping.
The Probyn's marriage suffered under the strain and the couple eventually separated. Mrs Probyn lives in the Los Angeles suburb of Riverside, while Mr Probyn lives in Orange County.
The abduction took place on the morning of June 10, 1991. The blonde-haired, blue-eyed little girl was wearing a pink windbreaker, a white T-shirt, pink trousers and white trainers. Despite the detailed description, an extensive manhunt and numerous false sightings that raised the family's hopes, she was never seen again.
Helen Boyer, a 78-year-old neighbour, described the Garridos as friendly.
"If I needed something, they would be the first I would call on," said Mrs Boyer, who cared for Mr Garrido's elderly mother.
"They were real good neighbours," she said. "Real nice people."
Ernie Allen, president of the National Centre for Missing & Exploited Children, said : "The Jaycee Dugard case is huge. There are some people who assume that when a child disappears there is no hope."
Clarence Mitchell, spokesman for Kate and Gerry McCann, told the Mirror that the news gave them hope that their missing daughter Madeleine, who disappeared in Portugal in 2007, could be found.
"They are extremely pleased. It further strengthens their determination never to stop looking for their missing daughter."