REVIEW "A STOLEN LIFE"
(Investigator 174, 2017 May)
Jaycee Dugard of California was abducted in 1991 at age 11, held
captive for 18 years by sex offender Phillip Garrido (b.1951), and
When rescued in 2009 she was aged 29 and her two daughters, fathered by
Garrido, 15 and 11.
Garrido had kidnapped and raped a woman in 1976 after she stopped to
help when he staged a car-breakdown. A court-ordered psychiatric
evaluation diagnosed him a "sexual deviant and chronic drug abuser." He
was convicted and began serving a 50-year sentence in a federal
Nancy Garrido (b.1955) was (according to news reports) a Jehovah's
Witness who preached to prison inmates and apparently converted Garrido
before marrying him in 1981. This helped Garrido convince parole
officers that he was a changed man, devoted to God, and helped procure
his early release in 1988.
Jaycee's daughters were raised believing Jaycee was their older sister
and Nancy the mother of all three.
In 2011 Judge Douglas Phimister sentenced Phillip Garrido to 430 years
in jail and Nancy to 36 years.
Jaycee's 273-page memoir, A Stolen
Life (2011) describes the sex sessions imposed on her in
discomforting detail; the primitive living conditions including bucket
for a toilet; her loneliness; boredom; self doubts; goals for self
improvement; pet cats; relationship with Nancy; the pain of giving
birth; and efforts to make her daughters' upbringing normal. It’s all
written in the present tense, switching to past tense when the
In 1991 Phillip and Nancy used a stun gun on Jaycee who was walking to
catch the school bus and pulled her into their car. They confined her,
initially handcuffed, in a soundproofed, backyard shed. On the first
night Phillip stripped her and shaved her body; the rapes began a week
For the first year Jaycee was kept alone except for Phillip's
company. After that she was permitted to watch TV with Phillip
and Nancy. In 1993 Phillip was returned to prison for parole violations
and Nancy could have released Jaycee but didn’t.
In 1994 Jaycee was still confined to a bolted room and gave birth to
her first daughter in August. The second daughter was born in 1997.
Gradually Jaycee was granted more freedom and worked as a graphics
designer in Phillip's printing business conducted from his house.
Customers knew her as "Allissa" and regarded her as professional and
As a paroled sex offender Garrido wore a GPS-enabled ankle bracelet but
parole officers never checked his back yard. Jaycee — intimidated by
the stun gun, indoctrinated to fear the outside world, concerned for
her girls, and treated by this time more like a live-in employee —
never mentioned her abduction to anyone.
In August 2009, Garrido went to the University of California with
Jaycee's daughters to get permission to hold a religious event on
campus. Background checks led to concerns about the two girls
accompanying him. Further questioning included Jaycee; the truth came
out when she couldn't confirm her identity as "Allissa".
Some newspapers reported Nancy to be a Jehovah's Witness who converted
Phillip in prison, and that Jaycee's daughters went door to door with
For these reasons the article When
A Religion Becomes Big (Investigator #161) included the Garridos
in a list of JW criminals. The argument in the article is that JWs are
losing their fear of Armageddon (because predictions have repeatedly
failed) and of excommunication, and therefore are not "the best people
in the world" as they claimed in 1970 but becoming more like "the
world". The conclusion was, "It is difficult for religions to be both
big and exceptionally good."
However, A Stolen Life makes
no reference to JWs, or visits by elders, or Nancy attending a Kingdom
Hall. Jaycee mentions Phillip's belief in "control by angels" (e.g.
pages 188, 194, 204), his Bible reading (131, 155, 202), and gives a
sample of "the Bible studies Phillip made us sit through" (190), but no
mention of JWs.