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Intensive search of Phillip Garrido's home seeks evidence in other kidnappings

September 15, 2009 |  1:00 pm

Investigators from two Bay Area police departments said this morning that they have launched an exhaustive search of the home of accused kidnappers Phillip and Nancy Garrido and a property next door in connection with the kidnappings of two girls from the Bay Area.

Michaela Garecht, 9,  was kidnapped in front of a Hayward grocery store in 1988. A year later, Ilene Misheloff, 13,  disappeared after she was seen getting into a sedan on her way home from school in Dublin.

“Our aim is to very methodically, systematically search the property with our cases in mind,” said Hayward Police Lt. Christine Orrey. ”We’re taking another shot at the property to see what we can find.”

Orrey said investigators are looking for any evidence of the girls, including clothing they were wearing when they disappeared and their possible remains.

The property was extensively searched after Phillip Garrido, 58, and wife Nancy, 54, were arrested Aug. 26 and charged in connection with the kidnapping and rape of 11-year-old Jaycee Lee Dugard, snatched from her South Lake Tahoe neighborhood 18 years ago.

Investigators brought in dogs trained to detect human remains, and recovered a bone fragment that proved to be human but was still being analyzed today by the state DNA crime lab, said Jimmy Lee, a Contra Costa County sheriff's spokesman.

But now investigators plan to use new equipment to search, Orrey said, including ground-penetrating radar that can detect graves. She said they are also prepared to raze structures and stay for days if they find signs of the girls.

No evidence previously taken from the properties links the Garridos to the kidnappings, but a sedan removed from the Garridos' home appears to fit the description of the car Ilene was seen boarding when she disappeared, according to Dublin police.

Orrey said investigators are focusing on the Garridos because the girls looked like Dugard, were a similar age and disappeared at a time when Phillip Garrido, who has been in and out of prison, had recently been released.

“This is one of the strongest leads we have pursued thus far,” Orrey said.

Investigators said they have not questioned the Garridos yet. They said they notified the families of both missing girls about the search.

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske


The Homicide Report: Chronicling L.A. County homicide victims.