A young American girl who disappeared in 1991 has been found alive after 18 years living as a virtual slave. Jaycee Lee Dugard was just eleven when she was bundled into a car near her home in the Californian resort of Lake Tahoe. She’s believed to have been held 160 kms away in the town of Antioch, kept out of sight in a shed in the garden. Now 29, Jaycee Lee was allegedly raped by her kidnapper, and bore him two children.
“She was in good health, but living in a backyard for the past 18 years does take its toll,” said El Dorado County under-sheriff Fred Koller. “But she was in good health.”
The man suspected of kidnapping her is registered sex offender and convicted rapist Phillip Craig Garrido. Suspicions were raised when he and Jaycee Lee and her two children went to Berkeley University campus to hand out religious leaflets. Neighbours in Antioch described Garrido as strange; he and his wife are expected to be charged later today.
Jaycee Lee’s kidnapping sparked the sort of headlines and concern that the disappearance of Madeleine McCann did two decades later. Californian police never closed their file on the case, but her family admit they had come close to giving up. Jaycee Lee’s mother and stepfather said they had just hoped to find her body, and said her reappearance is a miracle.