A California mom whose 11-year-old daughter was kidnapped 18 years ago got a call she never expected: On the other end was the child she had long thought was dead.
Jaycee Lee Dugard, who was abducted from in front of her South Lake Tahoe home in 1991, was privately reunited with her mom Thursday night.
"It's an absolute miracle. Can you imagine this after 18 years?" said Jaycee's stepfather, Carl Probyn.
Cops arrested a 58-year-old religious fanatic and convicted rapist, Phillip Garrido, who they say kept Jaycee hidden in a "secret backyard" and fathered two children with her - one the same age as the victim was when she vanished.
In their first conversation Wednesday night, Jaycee gave her mother a double jolt, Probyn said.
"I have something to tell you. I have babies," Jaycee told Terry Probyn, 50, who asked how many.
"Two," she replied.
Also arrested was Garrido's wife, Nancy, who police charge was with Garrido when they snatched Jaycee on June 10, 1991, as she walked to her school bus stop.
Probyn said his estranged wife called him soon after getting word from the FBI that Jaycee was safe and healthy.
"She said, 'They found Jaycee. She's alive,'" said Carl Probyn, 60, now of Riverside in Southern California. "We cried for about two minutes."
In an interview with KCRA3, Garrido on Thursday night urged people to wait for more details about the case to come out before making a judgment.
"What's kept me busy the last several years is I've completely turned my life around," he said.
"And you're going to find the most powerful story coming from the witness, the victim - you wait. If you take this a step at a time, you're going to fall over backwards and in the end, you're going to find the most powerful heartwarming story."
Lt. Fred Kollar of the El Dorado County Sheriff's Department said Garrido and his wife kept Jaycee for nearly two decades hidden the backyard of their home in the suburban San Francisco town of Antioch.
"My understanding is they went directly to that property right after the kidnapping," Kollar said. "The children were born there and they lived there since."
He said that Jaycee, now 29, and her two daughters, ages 11 and 15, were kept in a shack and two tents hidden behind a tree-lined, 6-foot-tall fence at the rear of the suspects' backyard.
Kollar said a plastic tarp covered the entrance to the covert camp, which had an outhouse and an outdoor shower.
"None of the children had ever been to school, none had been to a doctor, they were kept in complete isolation in this compound, if you will, at the house," Kollar said.
"She was in good health," Kollar said of Jaycee. "But living in a backyard for the past 18 years does take its toll."
Garrido was passing out religious literature without permission at the university's famed Sather Gate, the scene of student protests in the 1960s. When Jacobs ran a background check on Garrido, she learned he was a registered sex offender on lifetime federal parole for a 1971 kidnapping and rape.
Jacobs contacted Garrido's parole officer, who called the convict in for a meeting Wednesday.
Garrido showed up to meet his parole officer with his wife, the two girls he fathered, and a woman named Allissa - who turned out to be Jaycee.
"The parole agent had visited [Garrido's house] and never saw Jaycee and the two children," said Kollar, adding that the backyard encampment was so well-hidden the parole officer never noticed it.
After being grilled by the parole officer, Garrido admitted he and his wife had kidnapped Jaycee in 1991.
Carl Probyn told The News Thursday night that he felt vindicated after being eyed as a suspect in the case and being racked by guilt for not being able to save Jaycee from the kidnappers.
"I was a suspect probably until [Wednesday], I'm sure. I took four lie detector tests," said Probyn. "I'm the winner now. For the last 18 years, they [the Garridos] were the winners."
Garrido and his wife were being held on $1 million bail each Thursday night. He is to be officially charged today with rape and kidnapping, while she will be hit with charges of conspiracy.
A law enforcement source suggested that Garrido abducted Jaycee to make her his sex slave.
"As to why a man would take an 11-year-old girl, it's not so he could send her to debutante school," the source told the Daily News.
Garrido was released from Leavenworth Prison in Kansas in 1988, after serving 17 years for taking a woman across state lines and raping her in a hotel room, a relative of Garrido told The News.
Records show Garrido was thrown back in jail for five months in 1993 for a parole violation. He became a religious fanatic, and an Internet blogger who claimed he could speak to God and hear voices in people's heads.
Neighbors didn't seem surprised by the twisted details police revealed.
Damon Robinson, 38, said he knew Garrido had girls living in his backyard and raised the red flag to sheriff's deputies over two years ago.
"I put it in the police's hands. What else could I do," said Robinson, adding the deputies investigated his complaint, but nothing changed.
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