Calif. police expand search in kidnapping caseANTIOCH, Calif. (AP) — Armed with rakes, shovels and chain saws, about 20 officers on Sunday combed the backyard of a couple charged with kidnapping and raping Jaycee Lee Dugard and used cadaver dogs to search an adjoining property where neighbors say one of the suspects once served as a caretaker.
ANTIOCH, Calif. (AP) — Armed with rakes, shovels and chain saws, about 20 officers on Sunday combed the backyard of a couple charged with kidnapping and raping Jaycee Lee Dugard and used cadaver dogs to search an adjoining property where neighbors say one of the suspects once served as a caretaker.
Sheriff's deputies and prosecutors from two counties and officers from two city police departments were using the dogs, shovels and other tools to inspect the neighboring yard, which sits behind a off-white house with a chain link fence.
``We do consider it a crime scene,' said Jimmy Lee, a spokesman for the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Department.
Lee would not elaborate on what kind of evidence investigators were seeking or the nature of the possible crimes involving the second property. The link to the kidnapping case is that Phillip Garrido, the man charged with holding Dugard in captivity for 18 years in his own backyard, had access to the neighboring land when the house that sits on it was vacant three years ago.
``It looks like Garrido lived on the property in a shed,' Lee said.
Damon Robinson, who moved into the vacant house in 2006, and another neighbor say Phillip Garrido served as caretaker of the home before Robinson took occupancy. That same year Robinson's then-girlfriend called police after she saw tents and children in the backyard, but the responding deputy did not uncover the backyard compound.
A third neighbor, Janice Deitrich, 66, said that Phillip Garrido visited and helped to feed an elderly neighbor who lived in the house before Robinson.
Police in Pittsburg, a Bay Area city near where the Garridos lived, have said they are investigating whether Phillip Garrido may be linked to several unsolved murders of prostitutes in the early 1990s. Antioch police are also looking into unsolved cases but declined further details.
``We will take a close look at if there are any links to open cases,' Lee said.
Investigators also continued clearing brush from the scruffy backyard compound of tents and sheds where Garrido and his wife, Nancy, allegedly took Dugard after abducting her from her family's street 170 miles away in South Lake Tahoe.
Dugard was 11 when she was kidnapped and no trace had been seen of her until last week, when she showed up with Phillip Garrido at his parole agent's office in the San Francisco Bay area. Authorities allege she was held as a prisoner in the backyard encampment all these years and gave birth to two daughters, ages 11 and 15, who were fathered by Phillip Garrido.
The series of events that led to Dugard surfac quickly unfolded following a visit by Phillip Garrido to the University of California at Berkeley. He wanted to leaflet and hold an event on the campus, but the events coordinator and a campus police officer thought that he behaved strangely and were concerned about the robotic behavior of the daughters he sired with Dugard.
When the officer found that Garrido was a registered sex offender with a rape conviction in Nevada three decades ago, she contacted his parole officer.
At a meeting with his parole officer, Garrido brought along his wife, Dugard and the two girls. Authorities say he confessed to the kidnapping and was arrested along with his wife.
Dugard, now 29, was reunited with her mother, sister and another relative Thursday.
Phillip and Nancy Garrido pleaded not guilty Friday to a total of 29 counts, including forcible abduction, rape and false imprisonment.