Jaycee Dugard was kidnapped when she was eleven years old, on her way to catch the bus to school one morning.Her abductors were a husband and wife by the names of Phillip and Nancy Garrido.During the years she was missing, Jaycee was raped by Phillip and gave birth to two girls.
She was missing for over 18 years, until someone noticed unusual behavior that led to her discovery and reunion with her family.While reading a memoir written by Jaycee Dugard about her experiences while in captivity, I found myself stunned and disturbed that she had not been found much earlier than 18 years later.The idea that her captor, Phillip, got away with certain things without someone noticing was mind baffling to me.This thought made me feel sick and also frightened that such things could be occurring right next door.I came to a realization, as I read deeper into the book: people often overlook or ignore what they don’t want to see or believe. Certain points in the story told by Jaycee Dugard stuck out to me.
These points in the plot surprised me.The common belief would be that her captor would have to be extremely sneaky and hidden to get away with such a horrible crime, but that was not the case for Phillip Garrido.It occurred to me at the following moments in the story that people were overlooking the crime that was taking place so close to them. The first thing that came as a surprise to me was the location that Jaycee was kept.They didn’t take her to a rural area or someplace deep in the woods, as most would expect, she was kept in the backyard of the Garrido home.There was nothing private about the yard, and it backed up to the other properties in the neighborhood.
For several years there wasn’t even a fence to surround the yard.This is how Jaycee described the conditions of the yard after she was found, “It wasn’t even that well hidden. I was in the middle of a neighborhood.There were neighbors all around; the only thing that was camouflaged was the gate leading to the second backyard” (58).She moved between two small rooms next to each other in the backyard, one was called “the studio” and the other was called “next door”.
Both “rooms” were simply sheds in the back yard.Everyday Phillip or Nancy would have to go back and forth several times to bring Jaycee food, and other necessities.They would even go back there and spend large amounts of time with her.It amazes me that their neighbors didn’t ever wonder where they were going, or what they were doing for so long in those enclosures.I think that after seeing them bring food and different things to the back of the yard and leave them there, the neighbors would suspect something strange.
It is highly unlikely that for over 18 years no one in the neighborhood noticed anything out of the ordinary.This leads me to believe that they may have held back from speaking up about their observations. There were several times mentioned in the memoir about the couple taking Jaycee or her daughters out in public.These stuck out to me because I was shocked that the couple felt comfortable exposing the girl they had kidnapped.Even the fact that they would change her location around the property so often surprised me.I would have expected someone to recognize Jaycee despite her change of hair color.
All the publicity and Amber Alerts would surely make her face recognizable to even a stranger.At one point, Phillip and Nancy took all three girls (Jaycee and her two daughters) to a public beach.Another time, Nancy takes Jacycee out to lunch and to get her nails done.While Jaycee is at the nail salon she has many thoughts running through her head as the woman asks her questions to pass time, “I am not really here. I am not an actual person.
I am nobody.Nobody sees me”(155).Several times in the memoir Jaycee mentioned that Nancy would always take her thrift store shopping for the girls.At one point in one of the thrift stores, Jaycee lost her purse and when she went back to find it, it wasn’t there.I feel like something in that purse would have led to a clue as to whom the owner of the purse was, and perhaps even a clue that could lead to Jaycee specifically.
Out of all the times that Jaycee was brought in public, someone certainly would have noticed something strange, or recognized her face from the news. The final thing that surprised me about the kidnapping is that several times people came to the home of Phillip and Nancy Garrido while they had Jaycee.Jaycee was talking about being moved back and forth from the “studio” to “next door” when she said, “I’m not sure why I was shuffled from one room to the next.I think a part of it was because he liked to have some of his friends come over and smoke weed and play music all night” (76).Also Jaycee and her two daughters were sometimes allowed to be in the main house, which made them unhidden from the outside. A neighbor from down the street would come over often, and meet the girls, but she never reported anything about them being there.
Another part of the story, and the most shocking to me, is that at one point Phillip’s parole officer would come to the house frequently to check on him.Once, when the parole officer was there, he saw one of the young girls sleeping in a spare bedroom in the house.After this happened, another parole officer came and had a short conversation with Jaycee, who was in the main house at the time of his visit.Out of all these occurrences it would be expected that someone would notice something strange, but no one ever spoke up to mention what he/she had seen. I believe that between taking the girls into public, people coming to the house, and keeping Jaycee in the backyard, at least some people must have seen something they thought was out of the ordinary.Whether it was just that they thought they recognized Jaycee in public, or they saw a girl in the house that had never been there before, or even that they saw Phillip carrying a plate of food to the shed in the backyard.
“It makes me believe no one cared or was even really looking for me”(58).This is a direct quote from Jaycee.Multiple times in the memoir she mentioned how she thought people would recognize her or notice her.I believe that people did recognize her somewhere, but they just ignored it and moved on.There could be multiple reasons for this.
Maybe they felt as if it was none of their business, maybe they didn’t feel like getting involved, maybe they were afraid of being wrong and offending someone.The people in public, the neighbors, and even the police that came to the house were all too oblivious to realize what went on around them.They may have realized something different or strange about the Garrido family, and Jaycee, but their brain quickly removed the image or thought because they didn’t want to believe what they had seen. The sad truth is, if someone would have had the courage to speak up, Jaycee would have been freed from the Garridos much sooner than she was.One person’s bravery could have eliminated the misery that Jaycee was put through for 18 years.Don’t overlook things.Go with what lies in your heart, and believe what is seen.