Kidnap victim-turned-survivor Jaycee Lee Dugard has been free from the clutches of her captors – Phillip and Nancy Garrido – for one year as of Thursday and RadarOnline.com has an inside look at how the 30-year-old mother of two has spent the last 12 months.
Jaycee was rescued on August 26, 2009 after being held captive for nearly 18 years in a backyard compound at the Garrido’s Antioch, California home. Phil Garrido raised the suspicions of the UC Berkley campus police and after hours of questioning by authorities Jaycee finally admitted who she was and that the two little girls were actually her daughters with her captor Garrido.
Her family was notified immediately and the nation rejoiced in the safe return of the kidnapped girl and her two daughters.
Jaycee has mostly stayed out of public since her rescue, giving a brief interview to People magazine in October 2009. “I’m so happy to be back with my family,” she said.
“I want to thank you for your support and I’m doing well,” Dugard said on March 5, 2010 in her first and only on-camera interview with ABC’s 20/20 seven months after being rescued.
“It’s been a long haul but I’m getting there.”
The video footage featured Dugard with her mother Terry Probyn and sister Shayna riding horses and baking cookies together. Jaycee laughs off a blundered cookie at one point saying, “I’ve never decorated a cookie before!”
Terry spoke during the interview too, saying, “We want to thank you for the love and support that you’ve given us these past few months. It is my desire to share our miracle with the world, but it has to be done on our terms.
“Please give us the time to heal as a family, without the prying eyes of the photographers and the press,” Terry said.
“We released this video so that you can see that we’re happy and well and when we have more to share we will. As a mother I am pleading for our privacy in this very public story.”
In the months following her newfound freedom Dugard received her driver’s license, worked on getting her GED and plans to eventually attend college.
Police had many missed opportunities to rescue Dugard earlier, beginning with failing to link her kidnapping in South Lake Tahoe to Garrido’s 1976 kidnapping of Katherine Callaway Hall, who was taken from the same place.
Less than a year after Dugard’s kidnapping an unidentified caller reported a sighting to police less than two miles from the Garrido’s home in which he said he saw the young girl leave in a large yellow van, a description matching an old yellow Dodge van that was recovered from the Garrido’s property in 2009.
Garrido’s neighbors called 911 in 2006 to report tents in the backyard with children living in them so authorities had a brief 30-minute chat with Garrido in front of his house about it but left, again missing an opportunity to save Dugard. Following her rescue in 2009 local police issued an apology.
On July 1, 2010 the California state assembly awarded a $20 million settlement to Dugard, her mother and two daughters. Governor Schwarzenegger signed the bill on July 9, 2010, but it’s unclear if Dugard has actually received the money yet.
Phillip and Nancy Garrido remain behind bars, awaiting their trial, which may begin in 2011. Shawn Chapman Holley has been hired to represent Jaycee and her two daughters in the upcoming legal proceedings.
Jaycee kept a secret diary during her captivity, and her shocking words gave a terrifying glimpse into her conflicted feelings about her captors. The diary is part of the evidence in the legal case against her kidnappers.
On July 5th 2004, when Jaycee was 24 she wrote, “It feels like I’m sinking. I’m afraid I want control of my life… this is supposed to be my life to do with what I like… but once again he has taken it away. How many times is he allowed to take it away from me? I’m afraid that he doesn’t see how the things he says makes me a prisoner… why don’t I have control of my life! I feel I can’t even be sure my thoughts are my own…”
In a heartbreaking twist, Dugard’s biological father, Kenneth Slayton, came forward wanting to reconnect with his long lost daughter that he claims he was never told was his.
“I have had many nightmares over the years wondering if I could have done more to help Terry and the baby,” he said fighting tears during a press conference at his attorney Gloria Allred’s office in 2009.
“We are hoping and praying that she will hear us and take the first step in helping us confirm that she is my daughter.”
“I wish my daughter, Jaycee, and my grandchildren the very best. My wife, Jaycee’s sisters and brother, and I send our love and support to them,” Slayton told RadarOnline.com in an exclusive statement.
“We want them to know that we will always be happy to provide any assistance that they need.
“Our family is very happy that they are able to move forward in their lives.”
When contacted by RadarOnline.com Jaycee’s relatives declined to comment about her saying, “We’re not making any statements. When we’re ready to make one we’ll make one, we’re just letting them go at their own pace.”