Girl's kidnapper promises 'heart-warming' story

Alleged kidnapper apologises for 'disgusting thing' but promises heart-warming personal story as pictures emerge of the man in question
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The Independent US

The man accused of abducting 11-year-old Jaycee Lee Dugard, holding her as a sex slave for 18 years, and fathering two of her children has publicly apologised for doing “a disgusting thing” but claimed the world would eventually be surprised by the full details of his “heart-warming” personal story.

Philip Garrido, a convicted sex offender who apparently kept Dugard imprisoned in a makeshift backyard compound at his bungalow on the outskirts of the Californian city of Antioch, made the bizarre claims from his prison cell yesterday, in an interview with a local TV news station.

He did not answer detailed questions about whether he and his wife had kidnapped the now 29-year-old Dugard, who was re-united with her family yesterday. Neither did he explain reports that he’d forced her to grow up in virtual isolation, with only rudimentary electricity and no running water.

Legal protocol prevented him elaborating on allegations that he repeatedly raped his hostage, producing two daughters, he claimed. The eldest was born without the benefit of any medical attention, when Dugard was just 13 years old, and neither girl ever had any form of education.

Instead, the rambling 58-year-old, whose wife Nancy is also in custody, insisted that his eventual trial – he should be formally charged today with multiple counts related to rape and kidnapping - will demonstrate that he is a reformed character.

“What’s kept me busy, the last several, several years, is that I’ve completely turned my life around,” Garrido told KCRA-TV from his cell at the El Doprado County Jail. “You’re going to hear the most powerful story. You’re going to fall over backwards and find the most heart-rending story. You’ll be hearing something that needs to be understood.”

Since walking into a parole office near San Francisco this week with Jaycee and his two daughters, who revealed their real identity to an interviewer, Garrido claims to have felt relief.

“My life has been straightened out. Wait till you hear the story of what took place at this house. You are going to be absolutely impressed. It’s a disgusting thing that took place with me in the beginning. But I turned my life completely around.”

Garrido repeatedly referred to a “dossier” of information about his behaviour that he claims is being held by detectives on the 15th floor of the FBI building in San Francisco. He insists the material in those documents will exonerate him.

Today, investigators and journalists were piecing together information regarding Garrido's eccentric lifestyle. It emerged that he ran a blog entitled Voices Revealed, and had registered a Church devoted to his beliefs at his home address. He and his wife are said to have conducted what were described as “religious revivals” in a tent in their untidy garden and claimed to have developed a device that allowed them to control sound with their mind.

It was his religious beliefs that led to his arrest: parole officers visited Garrido's house this week after security staff at UC Berkeley detained him as he attempted to hand out leaflets advertising his church. The guards were concerned by his relationship with two teenage girls who were leafleting with him.

Those girls, it later emerged, were Jaycee's daughters. For reasons that remain unclear, he decided to take them with him to a subsequent interview at his parole office on Wednesday. It was at that interview that Dugard's identity finally emerged,

According to Garrido’s version of events, he stopped abusing children after his second daughter was born 11 years ago. “Mine is a constructive story about having those two girls in my arms every single night from birth. I never touched them,” he said, “The youngest one was born, and from that moment on everything turned around.”

That seems at odds with the facts surrounding his past, though. He was a lifelong sexual offender with a string of convictions, most recently in 1999. Although neighbours say they knew of his past , the hidden nature of his garden prevented them realising that he was keeping a hostage there.

Jaycee disappeared in June 1991, when she was grabbed by a couple driving a grey saloon car as she waited at a bus-stop, half a mile from her front door in South Lake Tahoe. Police removed a similar car from Garrido’s home yesterday afternoon.

Sniffer dogs were brought in yesterday to help search for any bodies that may be hidden or buried at the house. Meanwhile Jaycee has been reunited with her mother, Terry. She and her daughters are being kept at an undisclosed location in Northern California.