News24

Kidnap: Police search next door

2009-08-31 08:22

Antioch - Investigators expanded their search Sunday to a property next door to the home of a couple charged with kidnapping a little girl and holding her in a compound for 18 years.

Neighbours say Phillip Garrido, who along with his wife is charged with kidnapping Kaycee Lee Dugard, once served as a caretaker at the adjoining property, which sits behind a white house with a chain-link fence.

Also on Sunday, investigators armed with rakes, shovels and chain saws continued combing Garrido's property, where authorities say he and his wife, Nancy, kept Dugard in a scruffy compound of tents and sheds, hidden by trees and tall fences.

Police had cordoned off the second property with crime scene tape on Saturday. A Contra Costa County sheriff's spokesperson planned to make a statement later on Sunday clarifying why they were looking at the second property.

Damon Robinson, who lives there now, said Garrido served as caretaker before he moved in 2006.

That year, Robinson's then-girlfriend called police after she saw tents and children in the backyard. The responding deputy did not uncover the compound.

'Feeding an elderly neighbour'

A neighbour has also said Phillip Garrido would feed an elderly neighbour who once lived there.

Dugard was 11 when she was plucked off a South Lake Tahoe street in 1991 by a couple in a car. She was missing until last week, when Phillip Garrido visited the University of California at Berkeley and raised the suspicion of authorities there.

Garrido wanted to hold a religious event on campus, but the events coordinator and a campus police officer thought he behaved strangely and took note of the robotic behaviour of his daughters, 11 and 15.

When the officer learned Garrido was a registered sex offender with a rape conviction in Nevada three decades ago, she alerted his parole officer.

At a meeting with the parole officer, Garrido brought his wife, Dugard and the two little girls, whom he fathered with Dugard. Authorities say he confessed to the kidnapping and was arrested along with his wife. Dugard, now 29, was reunited with her family.

Phillip and Nancy Garrido pleaded not guilty on Friday to charges including forcible abduction, rape and false imprisonment.

Police in the nearby city of Pittsburg are investigating whether Phillip Garrido is linked to the unsolved murders of several prostitutes in the early 1990s.

Antioch police are also looking into unsolved cases but declined further details.

AP