UC Berkeley police officers Friday gave a detailed account of their encounter with Phillip Garrido, the Antioch man accused of holding 29-year-old Jaycee Lee Dugard captive for 18 years on his property.
Officer Lisa Campbell, UCPD's manager of special events, and UC Police Officer Ally Jacobs recounted during a 45-minute press conference at the Berkeley campus a chain of events that led to the capture of kidnapping suspect Phillip Garrido and his wife Nancy and freedom for Dugard, who was abducted in 1991 at the age of 11 while walking to a bus stop from her South Lake Tahoe home.
Campbell said that on Monday, Aug. 24, she was approached by a man in the Special Events Office lobby who told her that he wanted to host some kind of religious event on campus that would reflect “God’s desire.”
“The suspect came into my office with two young girls behind him,” Campbell said. “He started talking about his organization.”
When Campbell asked the man how it related to UC, he was inconsistent in his answers, telling her that it involved the government and UC Berkeley and the FBI. When she asked for his name, the man willingly gave it to her.
“I asked him if it was OK to schedule an appointment for 2 o’clock Tuesday, and he said that the event was going to change the world,” Campbell said. “My initial impression was that he was clearly unstable.”
Campbell described the girls as quiet and subdued, wearing drab dresses which she described as “Little House on the Prairie meets robots or clones.”
Suspicious about the man’s behavior, Campbell told Officer Jacobs that she was a little disturbed with the situation. She was especially concerned about the two children and bothered by the fact that they were not in school.
When Jacobs ran the man’s name on the police dispatch, she discovered that Garrido was on federal parole for kidnapping and rape and was a registered sex offender.
“Once I heard that, red flags went up,” Officer Jacobs said. “It was a little more than what we had bargained for.”
Jacobs briefed her supervisor about the situation and, along with Campbell, met Garrido the next day at Campbell’s office.
“We didn’t want to alert him to the fact that we were looking for anthing criminal,” Jacobs said. “We asked him how we could help him and he opened his attaché case and pulled out this book about schizophrenia and the FBI.”
Jacobs said the book was self-published by Garrido. “It was a bunch of letters—choppy, difficult to understand,” she said.
Garrido’s younger daughter sat next to him while his older daughter stood, Jacobs said.
“It was really hard to understand what he was talking about,” Jacobs said, “and then suddenly he threw out that ‘Thirty-three years ago I was arrested for kidnapping and rape, but I have learned about the Lord and Jesus.’ ”
Jacobs said that she was a little taken aback that he had confessed his crime in front of the children.
“I had a hard time paying attention and I focused on the two young ladies,” she said.
When she asked Garrido who they were, he replied “These are my daughters,” and said that they were in the fourth and ninth grades and were being home schooled.
Jacobs said she noticed that the two little girls were rather pale compared to Garrido—"Blonde hair, very pale, with bright blue eyes like their father, penetrating blue eyes. ... The younger daughter was looking into my eyes, penetrating my soul and she had a smile on her face,” she said.
While the younger daughter seemed more interested in answering questions, Jacobs said, the older one was behaving like a “robot,” either looking at her father or the ceiling and giving rehearsed answers.
“They were not behaving like normal 11- or 15-year-olds,” Jacobs said. “It was like their father was their world, their life.” It was, she said, almost like their “emotions were brainwashed,” adding that the children were “extremely submissive,”
When Jacobs asked the younger daughter about the “tumor-like” bump under her brow, the officer said she was a little surprised at the way the girl responded. The girl said it was a “birth defect, could not be operated on, and she would have it for the rest of her life.”
At that point, Jacobs said, her maternal instincts took over as her "police mode turned into mother mode.”
Jacobs said she continued to quiz Garrido about their family life and found out that his wife was a teacher. At this point, the younger sister said they had a 28-year-old sister who lived with them.
“The older sister said, without missing a beat, '29'” Jacobs said. Campbell said that she was searching for any proof that would help them detain Garrido but was unsuccessful. The two officers said that although they wanted to take the children aside and question them, they knew Garrido would not have allowed that. Jacobs said Garrido was shaking nervously throughout the meeting.
“I am just looking at the younger daughter for some kind of sign, like ‘help me,’ if she could help me with her facial expression but I wasn’t reading anything from these kids,” Jacobs said
They told Garrido that they would hand over his book to their supervisor, and he gave each of them a copy.
Before leaving, Jacobs said, Garrido grabbed his older daughter and said, “I am so proud of my girls. They don’t know any curse words,”
“We knew something was going on with those girls but didn’t have any proof," Officer Jacobs said. "It was just really frustrating.”
Jacobs left a message with Garrido’s probation officer describing her concerns.
When the parole officer called Jacobs Wednesday morning, Aug. 26, to find out what was going on, Jacobs mentioned the little girls.
“He stops me when I said he brought in his two daughters,” she said. “He says he [Garrido] doesn’t have any two daughters, and my stomach is sick. I said he had two daughters, theyhad his blue eyes, they were calling him Daddy, and that I had no reason to believe that they were not his daughters. In fact they had talked about an older sister.”
Jacobs said that after talking to the parole officer she decided she would tell Garrido that he could not come back on the UC campus on condition of his parole, and that “the matter had come to an end.”
But a few hours later she got a call from the parole officer saying that the FBI was involved. “And that’s the last time I heard from them,” she said.
Campbell, who joined UCPD in Jan. 2009, said that as the story started to unfold, “I was at a loss for words.”
“I am grateful that we were at the place we were and that we were able to take the actions we took,” she said. I am in awe of how many lives have been affected, that these girls have a chance at life and that he’s behind bars.”
Before joining UCPD in January, Campbell worked as a background investigator for the Los Angeles Police Department and with the juvenile court and corrections system in Chicago.
Both officers said they had no second thoughts on how they had handled the situation.
“I couldn’t believe it was something so huge. At that time it didn’t seem like it was something that was going to turn into something this big,” said Jacobs, who has been with UCPD since 2001. “I am glad that this horrible ordeal for Jaycee is over, sad that it took so long. This was a life-altering experience.”