The Disturbing Crimes Of Kidnapping Couple Phillip Craig Garrido And His Wife Nancy

June 10, 1991, began as an ordinary Monday morning for 11-year-old Jaycee Dugard. She got up, made her own breakfast of peaches and cream instant oatmeal, fed her cat Monkey and rabbit Bugsy on the deck, and then headed toward the school bus stop. When a car suddenly pulled up next to her, Dugard's life changed in an instant.

"I stop walking as the driver rolls down his window," she recounted in her 2012 book "A Stolen Life: A Memoir." "He leans slightly out of his car and starts to ask me for directions. His hand shoots out of the window so fast I barely register that he has something black in his hand. I hear a crackling sound and I feel paralyzed." The man, Phillip Craig Garrido, shot Dugard with a stun gun, and with the help of his wife, Nancy, kidnapped the child from Meyers, California, near South Lake Tahoe. Her family wouldn't see her again for 18 years. This wasn't Garrido's first such crime.

A twisted history 

By the time Phillip Craig Garrido — who was born in Pittsburg, California, in 1951 — was in his early 20s, he'd already begun his criminal career. In 1972, he allegedly drugged and raped a 14-year-old girl but avoided prosecution when the victim declined to testify in the case, CBS News reports. Four years later, Garrido kidnapped a 25-year-old casino worker from a South Lake Tahoe parking lot after she agreed to give him a ride (per Reno Gazette-Journal).

He told her his car had broken down and then attacked her, taping her mouth shut, handcuffing her, and tying her up (via Reno-Gazette Journal). Garrido drove the woman more than 60 miles away to a Reno, Nevada mini-storage he'd furnished with rugs on the floors and walls, a spotlight, and a movie projector. He then raped the woman. A police officer on patrol rescued the victim early the next morning and arrested Garrido. He'd attempted and failed to kidnap another woman earlier that night.

The couple met in prison  

A federal jury took only 90 minutes to find Phillip Craig Garrido guilty of kidnapping in February 1977 (per The Sacramento Bee). In a separate trial on rape charges, a Nevada jury also found him guilty. In the federal case, a judge sentenced Garrido to 50 years on the kidnapping charges, and a Nevada judge gave him a minimum of five years and a maximum of life. While serving his federal sentence in the Leavenworth penitentiary in Kansas, he met Nancy Bocanegra, who was visiting her uncle who was also an inmate there (via The Seattle Times).

Garrido and Bocanegra began corresponding with each other and got married in 1981 while he was still in prison. Released in 1988 on lifetime parole, Garrido and his new wife settled down together in Antioch, California, and Nancy became a certified nursing assistant. Garrido remained under federal supervision until 1999 when California took over keeping tabs on him. "He had no parole violations," federal authorities told The Santa Fe New Mexican in 2009. Under this veneer of normalcy hid a twisted truth that wouldn't come to light until 2011.

A living hell

After Phillip and Nancy Garrido kidnapped 11-year-old Jaycee Dugard, they raped her before they drove her 180 miles to their Antioch home, where they imprisoned the child in a makeshift compound in the trash-strewn backyard. This would go on for 18 years, during which time Dugard bore two children — when she was 14 and 17 — in the two-room shack where the couple kept her prisoner (per The New York Times). The Garridos also kept the two girls in isolation from the rest of the world for years.

During the first week of Dugard's captivity, she told CNN Garrido kept her handcuffed and began raping her once a week for the first three years of her captivity. "I was very scared," Dugard testified in a grand jury hearing in 2011 (via the Los Angeles Times). "I didn't know who he was. I didn't know why he was doing this. I just wanted to go home." Garrido kept Dugard there with threats of siccing attack dogs on her or shocking her with the stun gun he'd used to help abduct her.

A suspicious university employee 

In August 2009, Phillip Craig Garrido and Nancy's secret quickly unraveled after he went to the University of California at Berkeley with his and Dugard's daughters — then 11 and 15 — in tow to ask about holding a religious event on the campus (via The Bismarck Tribune). Garrido had founded a religious organization, God's Desire, the year before and was hoping to draw people to his cause. His bizarre behavior at the college put a staff member on high alert (per Biography). She asked Garrido to come back the next day and had the campus police do a background check, which revealed Garrido's status as a sex offender on lifetime parole.

Soon, his parole officer got involved, and under interrogation, Garrido revealed everything. Once police arrested Phillip and Nancy, Dugard and her mother were finally reunited after nearly 20 years. Garrido pleaded guilty to a single count of kidnapping and multiple sex crimes, while Nancy pleaded guilty to one count each of kidnapping and rape in April 2011 (via the Whitehorse Daily Star). Garrido is currently serving a 431-year sentence, and Nancy is in prison for a minimum sentence of 36 years and a maximum of life, CNN reports.

A broken system 

Police searched the Garridos' Antioch home and adjacent yards looking for clues to other possible abductions of young girls, and while they found no evidence on the property linking Phillip Garrido to two kidnapping cases from the 1980s, they didn't rule him out as a suspect, either. In August 2011, El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson, who handled the Jaycee Dugard kidnapping case, released several videos shot by Nancy Garrido of young girls playing at the park and one in which they'd lured a child into their van and had her do splits for the camera (per NBC News). Nancy told investigators she'd made 10 to 20 such videos for her husband. 

Pierson also put out a report castigating parole officers for failing to properly supervise Garrido over the years. "Had the federal parole agents searched the Garrido residence, they would have found her," the report states (via NBC News). Edward Santos Jr., Garrido's state parole officer, to whom he eventually confessed about Dugard's kidnapping, later went on record about the case. "I searched the entire house and never found anybody else," he told KCRA in 2022. "I looked in the backyard and it was a typical backyard. A typical backyard that was just, it wasn't atrocious. It wasn't well kept. A lot of debris and a lot of appliances left on the lawn, overgrown shrubbery and grass. Nothing unusual about that."

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).