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Sheriff apologizes for missing opportunity to find Jaycee Lee Dugard sooner [Updated]

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The Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Department said authorities received a 911 call several years ago reporting that there were tents in the backyard of Phillip Garrido’s home and that children lived there.

The caller said Garrido was “psychotic” and had sexual addictions. A deputy talked to Garrido in the frontyard but never entered the home and concluded there was no criminal activity.

Sheriff Warren Rupf apologized today. “We may have missed an opportunity to have intervened earlier,” he said.

[Updated at 12:23 p.m.: Rupf said the sheriff's deputy who questioned Garrido did not request to enter the backyard. The deputy simply warned Garrido that living outside was a code violation and left the home where Jaycee Lee Dugard and her two daughters were allegedly kept in a compound of sheds and tents in the backyard.

"This is not an acceptable outcome," Rupf told reporters Friday.

Rupf said law enforcement should have been "more inquisitive" and "more curious."

"I cannot change the course of events," Rupf said. "We are beating up ourselves over this." He apologized to Dugard's family and said his department "accepted responsibility for having missed an earlier opportunity to rescue Jaycee."]

Meanwhile, the father of Garrido, suspected of kidnapping an 11-year-old South Lake Tahoe girl 18 years ago, said today that his son had a long history of drug use and mental problems.

"They are treating him like he knew what he was doing, but he didn’t know what he was doing," Manuel Garrido, 88, said in a telephone interview from his home in Brentwood in Northern California. "The man is out of it. He is a sick man. He should be treated that way. He should be punished but he should be treated like a crazy person."

Garrido, a 58-year-old registered sex offender, and his wife, Nancy, were arrested Wednesday in the 1991 abduction of Jaycee Lee Dugard and are suspected of holding her captive in the backyard of their Antioch home ever since. Garrido is believed to have fathered two daughters with Dugard, who is now 29. The girls are 11 and 15.

Manuel Garrido said it had been more than five years since he last saw his son. He said Phillip was a sweet kid, friendly and always making jokes.

Phillip played electric guitar and had a band, and was always willing to help his parents around the house, Garrido said. "Everyone loved him."

He said Phillip started getting into trouble in high school and began using LSD.

Garrido said he tried to talk to his son and get him on the right path, but by the time Phillip graduated from high school it was too late.

"After he got the LSD pills, he was gone,” Garrido said. “It ruined his life. He did a lot of crazy things after that."

-- My-Thuan Tran

Photo credit: Noah Berger / Associated Press

Photos: "A backyard within a backyard"

Related: Woman kidnapped as an 11-year-old in ’91 found

Comments () | Archives (35)

The sheriff apologized? What kind of police work was this? Couldn't the cop have done a cursory background check? He'd have found that the man was a convicted sex offender. That deputy sheriff should be fired. FIRED! It was a dereliction of duty that is beyond comprehension. Just a lazy cop who is a danger to every taxpaying citizen of the county. Fire the bum! And the sheriff as well. He's an absolute idiot too!!!

This story is troubling. The spooky part is that when you look the address up on Google, you can see the property and the shacks in the back. If you view the map in "street mode", the van is pulling out of the property and follows the google car as it is taking photos of the area.

Well easy to answer, and is the "whole" and "main" reason for 911 calling emergency resonse systems in all states and cites: When a 911 call is "received" the law is to respond to the call immediate as in a life-death threatning situation, without any questions or regards (uncluding hang-ups or - opps I made a mistatke - or opps - that was my kids playing on the phone.) It is to get law enforcement to the address of the 911 call - and go direct to the 911 call and respond in a manner of evaluating the whole entire home, place, property, cars, etc. - of any hostage, danger, etc. and the law is not to leave until all have been throughly looked upon, asked upon, even checking under beds, closets etc. and until fully cleared of all persons and property - including "in the backyard are some tents" man lives their pervert - sexual predator - that is a big violation of the law and what it's purpose is to response to a 911 call - and especially when that "specific" information was given, and the law officer(s) didn't even go and look around back - ah oh! We have a law suit here against Contra Costa County Sheriff's Department if I were that child(s) family - there is no sorry that can provide or make up for several years in a 911 call - any real law enforcer/enforcement/agency knows this is a standard procedure to check everywhere, and all of the property, persons etc. Especially when their were told of the tents out back - what do you think and how do you think this family of these children, and these children felt for several years out in the back yard - you try it - unhuman - unlawful neglect of police/law enforcement to protect and to serve - I would be considering to have the Sheriff's Department make a large contribution donation to this family and these children - like a new home and a free education through college. Amen.

Well, while it is commendable to hear the sheriff apologize in such a clear and strong way for missing an opportunity to rescue the girls, I must say that it really is unacceptable, as he said, that the detective sent out to respond to a 911 call that clearly stated there were tents in the back yard of a registered sex offender and, furthermore, that children were living in them, did not go out and search the back yard. I find that incomprehensible. The children could have been rescued several years ago if the detective had thoroughly investigated that 911 call. This whole thing is so tragic. Hopefully, the sheriff's dept. will turn this into a "teachable moment" and review their standard procedures for responding to tips.

'the father of Garrido, said today that "They are treating him like he knew what he was doing, but he didn’t know what he was doing,"'

Heh. Constructing a hidden compound with a soundproof shed is NOT "didn't know what he was doing"

Don't you think after seeing that photograph of that hovel that Sheriff's offices nationwide should check out structures like this?

Just a quick peek to make sure OTHER kidnap victims aren't being housed as such.

WHAT kind of MONSTER would do this to a person/and her innocent children.

He should get the death penalty. His wife too.

He's gonna know what sick is when they put him away and he becomes Big Bubba's new wife!

So the police did not have a warrant and decided not to be inquisitive? They did not need a warrant... Garrido was on parole. On top of that Garrido's misuse of his backyard is clearly visible on maps.google.com.

I guess when the public employees--the police officers--who allowed these horrific crimes have had enough coffee breaks and no longer want to be safety officers they will have nice pensions to show for the sacrifices they made to protect the public.

Saying the cops should've been "more inquisitive more curious" in hind sight is irrational. Because if cops were that way normally with everything that seemed suspicious they'd be getting lawsuits for harassment. Look, some folks are just going to get away with heinous crimes-that's life. I'm just glad there are vigilant police officers out there. I'm not saying we should just give up, but blaming the cops doesn't help the situation. Maybe we could also blame the parents where were they? After all, the cops aren't everyone's babysitters. Or let's blame the neighbor's husband who wasn't "curious enough"-he should've listened to his nosy wife. See, that gets rediculous. The only person to blame is the kidnapper. Now, what are we in society going to do to prevent it? Oh I know, build more jails and make punishment harsher, beause that's stopped so many, right? NOT! But it will make us feel better and it's much cheaper that researching how these guys tick and what programs we can create to help mitigate if not eliminate these desires...but that's to touchy-feely for us for us isn't it? We like seeing solid things like prison walls and armed guards; then we know we spent the money.

In that case, the question will always be not if another child get's abducted but where will the next one be found-if at all?

Sounds like pretty severe negligence on the part of negligent authorities!!!

Had it been someone like Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., then the Contra Costa County Sheriff would have found a way to handcuff Phillip Garrido and have him behind bars. Does this mean the children would have been instantly rescued?

crazy? that implies he didn't know what he was doing. he was hiding the abducted woman & her children. what about his wife?, was she mentally ill and therefore not responsible as well? throw the book at these perverts.

The Sheriff makes me sick, there is no apology good enough.

Thank God for the lady campus police officer who had her wits about her, and was actually doing her job. The Sheriff should turn his badge over to her, she would know how to use it.

I hope all the idiots responsible for not investigating any further when they initially received the call about children living in a tent in the backyard are all fired with no severance or pension, let's hit them where it hurts... in the pocket, this is unacceptable, a young childs life was ruined because of this.

police are in another world.

this guy who calls himself sheriff should be horsewhipped good...he was probably out fundraising and could not care less about what goes on in his territory...typical of law enforcement in this state...gutless wonders who apologize when they screw up big time...and then get fat raises to their bloated salaries every year while the criminals are laughing all the way to the bedroom with their kidnapped kids...can anyone say sheriff CORONA...investigate this guy and find out what he was doing...ill bet he was fat and happy on his bloated $500K salary sitting on some yacht of his big donors sipping coctails!!!

Since when do cops take a suspects word for anything? So the guy told him nothing was going on and the cop just says "okay, man, no problem, be seen' ya." Unbelievable. This girl could have been rescued years ago.

I am outrgaed - a) a registered sex offender, a kidnapper and a parollee takes a child in a car registered to him, the car description is given - and nobody finds the culprit? Perhaps because the cops were too busy blaming the stepfather and ruining a few more lives? and - b) a sherif's deputy comes to a known sex offenders home after a neighbor's complaint, DEOS NOT KNOW that the man is a registered sex offender on parole, and DOES NOT INVESTIGATE? The deputy should be fired, and the sheriff should resign. Sorry, folks, a mere "sorry" won't do

How did that poor 11 year old kidnapped girl remain brainwashed for so long? Why did she not try to run away to be re-united with her parents?

Father knows best. One has to be crazy to do what his son did. It seems that his craziness was due to drugs, too. We must try to prevent future episodes of this situation. Drug education and interdiction would be a good start.

Talk about USELESS bureaucrats in the Sheriff's Dept - should all be RELIEVED for dereliction of DUTY!

Police often treat citizens with contempt. Some of them just can't be bothered. When my car was stolen, they ticketed it twice without noticing it was on the hot sheet. Then they tried to make me pay the thieves' tickets!

I'm sure many police are good people doing the best they can, but there's considerable chance of getting the other kind when you have a problem.

I agree that the law enforcement should treat this man like a crazy man. So put him in prison for the criminally insane and never let him out. That way there would not be any chance of him ever doing this sort of thing again.

Unbelievable....I don't even know where to go from there. Glad to see the ones who are serving and protecting are doing, well who the hell knows really. Maybe next time you get a 911 call actually take it seriously and not assume its just another crazy neighbor who cant mind her own business.

Sheriff Warren Rupf did what he could, he apologized for the deputy sheriff that was sent to the home and failed to conduct a proper investigation. The deputy sheriff blew it, and it is gut wrenching to think that the victims lived under those conditions for years because of incompetence. We can only hope that there is a special place in hell for Phillip and Nancy Garrido and monsters like them.

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