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Girl grew up locked away in backyard sheds

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Neighbor says he once called police after seeing children in backyard
  • Jaycee Dugard locked in soundproof sheds in alleged captor's backyard for 18 years
  • Compound of sheds, tarps equipped with makeshift bathroom and shower
  • Authorities: Dugard was "kept in complete isolation in this compound"
By Mallory Simon
CNN
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(CNN) -- From the time she was an 11-year-old, blue-eyed, freckle-faced blonde until she was a 29-year-old woman with two children, Jaycee Dugard was kept locked away in a backyard compound of sheds and tarps by a couple who police say abducted her.

Phillip Garrido is a registered sex offender, listed as having been convicted of forcible rape.

Jaycee Dugard was locked in a shed tucked under a blue tarp in her alleged captor's backyard.

She was more than 160 miles from home, and her family had no idea where she was.

Nobody else knew she was there except the couple who snatched her off the street in front of her house in South Lake Tahoe, California, in 1991, and took her straight to the soundproof shed, police said.

Dugard's pocket of Phillip and Nancy Garrido's backyard in Antioch, California, was so overgrown no one even knew it existed.

The details about Dugard's time in captivity emerged Thursday after one of Northern California's most enduring mysteries was solved and the Garridos were arrested and accused of her kidnapping.

Anyone who came across the couple's backyard, littered with garbage cans and a dishwasher, would assume that it ended at a 6-foot fence. Video Watch aerial images of the backyard compound »

"You could walk through the backyard and never know there was another set of living circumstances," said Fred Kollar, undersheriff of El Dorado County. "There was nothing that would cause you to question it. You can't see it from either adjoining property. It was presumably well arranged."

But tucked away beyond the tangle of bushes, high grass and trees was a blue tarp that concealed the only world Dugard had known since her abduction.

Kollar said the property had "a hidden backyard within a backyard." It included several sheds no taller than 6 feet, two tents and several outbuildings, "where Jaycee and the girls spent most of their lives."

It also held a vehicle that matched the description of the car used in Dugard's kidnapping, Kollar said.

The "secondary" backyard was inside the first and was "screened from view." One of the sheds was soundproof, he said.

In it were sheds and tarps, a makeshift bathroom and shower, along with electricity supplied by extension cords. Kollar compared the primitive conditions to camping.

Dugard lived for several years there by herself. The sheds were locked from the outside.

She grew up and had her captor's children there, and raised them there.

"None of them have ever been to school, they've never been to a doctor," Kollar said. "They were kept in complete isolation in this compound, if you will, at the rear of the house," he said. "They were born there."

The children, both girls, are now 15 and 11.

"They are all in good health," Kollar said in response to a question about how Dugard and her children are doing. "But living in a backyard for the last 18 years does take its toll."

Dugard's presence behind Garrido's home apparently went unnoticed by many in the neighborhood, where homes on one-fourth to one-half-acre lots typically sell for less than $200,000. Video Watch neighbors react »

"My dad said he never saw a young woman," said Kathy Russo, whose father has lived two houses away from the Garridos for 33 years.

She said the one-story house's backyard was obscured by trees and ringed by a wooden fence. Her 94-year-old father considered Garrido to be a "kind of strange, reclusive, kind of an angry kind of guy," Russo said.

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But one man who lives in the neighborhood told CNN that he called the local sheriff's department a few years ago after seeing what he thought were several children living in the backyard.

The man said authorities came out and had a brief conversation with the Garrido family, but nothing ever happened.

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