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

August 28, 2009 | 12:11 pm

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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