A state report released yesterday blasts corrections officials for missing chances to catch the sex offender accused of holding Jaycee Dugard captive in his backyard for 18 years.
The 45-page report by the state inspector general paints a heartbreaking picture of overlooked opportunities to rescue Dugard, but also contains new details of the now 29-year-old's first interactions with law enforcement after her captivity.
It says Dugard repeatedly tried to conceal her identity in the hours before it was revealed, telling authorities she was hiding from an abusive husband in Minnesota and defending Phillip Garrido, the man now charged in her abduction and rape.
Garrido and his wife, Nancy, have pleaded not guilty to 29 counts related to 1991 Dugard's abduction, rape and imprisonment.
Inspector General David Shaw, appointed by Govenor Arnold Schwarzenegger to monitor the prison system, said the failures by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation began almost immediately after the state took control in 1999 of Garrido, who had been convicted in 1977 of raping and kidnapping a 25-year-old woman. He was previously under federal supervision.
They included neglecting to interview Garrido's neighbours or to investigate the utility wires running from his Antioch house to the secret backyard compound where Dugard and her daughters are said to have lived. They also included temporarily misclassifying Garrido as a low-risk offender.
Such mistakes by the department resulted "in the continued confinement and victimization of Jaycee and her two daughters," Shaw said.
Dugard's identity was discovered when she and her daughters, ages 12 and 15, who were fathered by Garrido, accompanied Garrido and his wife to his parole agent's office. Dugard said her name was Alyssa. The report said investigators grew suspicious of the Dugard and children's relationship to Garrido and separated them into different rooms.
Unbeknownst to Dugard, Garrido told another agent that Dugard and the girls were his nieces.
Confronted about the inconsistencies, Dugard "explained that she was from Minnesota and had been hiding for five years from an abusive husband, the report said. "She was terrified of being found, she said, and that was the reason she could not give the parole agent any information."
Garrido eventually told the parole agent he had kidnapped and raped Dugard, the report said, an account later confirmed by Dugard, who then identified herself.
According to the report, Dugard told investigators before she identified herself that she knew Garrido was a convicted sex offender, but that he was a changed man. She called him "a great person who was good with her kids."
Corrections Secretary Matthew Cate said yesterday he deeply regretted if the mistakes made by his department kept Dugard in captivity for even one additional day.
He said he could not comment for privacy reasons on whether any disciplinary actions would be taken against the parole officers who oversaw Garrido.
A statement issued by Dugard's lawyer McGregor Scott said the report "clearly sets out many missed opportunities to bring a much earlier end to the nightmare of Jaycee Dugard and her family."
It also said Dugard is "fully committed" to holding Garrido accountable for his alleged crimes.
The report said for almost the entire first year he was in the California parole system, Garrido was not visited by a parole agent. It said he also was passed over between June 2001 and July 2002, and received only one visit between June 2004 and August 2005.
Parole supervisors also failed to detect and address the inadequate oversight, the report said.
"Put another way, 90 per cent of the time the department's oversight of Garrido lacked required actions," the inspector general said.
Garrido was required to register as a sex offender because of the 1977 conviction. He was paroled in 1988, supervised by federal parole authorities.
In March 1999, the US Parole Administration terminated Garrido's federal parole supervision and Nevada briefly took over until June 1999, when California began his supervision.
US Department of Justice spokesman Charles Miller said he could not immediately comment on the report's findings or Garrido's case.
Shaw faulted the California department for not reviewing copies of Garrido's federal parole file that included information about a search a federal agent did of Garrido's backyard, including the secret tented area and a soundproof studio there.
Shaw said a parole agent also failed to adequately investigate the relationship between Garrido and a young girl seen by the agent during a home visit.
As a parolee, Garrido wore a GPS-linked ankle bracelet that tracked his movements. But the report said agents ignored alerts about violations. A review of the GPS information found that over a 32-day period from 23 July 2009 to 23 August 2009, he travelled outside of the 25-mile zone seven times.
Shaw recommended that corrections officials require active GPS monitoring of all sex offenders, so that agents get near real-time updates on the whereabouts of the parolees.
Cate, the corrections secretary, said that requirement would be adopted.