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Authorities Tipped in ‘06 Didn’t Find 1991 Child Kidnap Victim Until Now

Posted Aug 28, 2009 7:03 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Following stunning news this week that an 11-year-old girl kidnapped from a school bus stop in front of her home in 1991 had been found alive after allegedly being held captive for 18 years by a convicted sex offender and his wife in their backyard came more stunning news today, according to the New York Times.

Authorities were tipped in late 2006 that suspect Phillip Garrido, who is now 58, had a tent in his backyard in which people, including young children, were living, Contra Costa County Sheriff Warren Rupf said at a news conference today. “The caller also said that Garrido was psycho and had a sexual addiction,” the sheriff said.

Although a deputy checked out the tip, he left without finding the now 29-year-old allegedly held as a sex slave and her two children. Allegedly fathered by Garrido, they are now 11 and 15 and reportedly have never gone to school or seen a doctor. While not criticizing the deputy individually, Rupf called the outcome unacceptable and apologized, the newspaper reports.

In particular, the sheriff noted that Garrido had registered as a convicted sex offender, as the law requires, and said authorities should have found a way to connect that information with the 911 tip. A second failed opportunity to find the missing woman came in 2008, when an inter-agency group made an unannounced visit to the Garrido home but didn't search the backyard, the sheriff says.

Garrido, who is on parole for a 1970s rape and kidnapping, was arrested after he reportedly went with the 11- and 15-year-old to the campus of the University of California at Berkeley to distribute religious literature. After his behavior with the girls was thought to be suspicious, a campus police officer asked questions and a background check showed that he had been convicted of sex crimes, the Times recounts.

The next day, Garrido was called into a meeting with his parole officer, arriving with his 55-year-old wife, Nancy, the 29-year-old woman and her daughters. The suspicious officer, who had never seen either the woman or the girls, asked additional questions, and the victim, who was introduced under a different name, at some point apparently told the officer her true identity, the newspaper reports.

The 29-year-old developed a bond with her alleged captor at some point, as kidnapping victims have been known to do, and is now feeling guilty, according to the Chicago Tribune.

As the day progressed, the Garridos pleaded not guilty to 29 rape and kidnapping counts in El Dorado Superior Court while authorities began searching their home to see if any connection could be made with a string of prostitute murders a decade ago in the 1990s, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. A number of their bodies were found in an area near where Phillip Garrido works.

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