Case of girl kidnapped 18 years ago gives other parents hope
Jaycee Dugard has been held in a Bay Area home secretly since 1991 and has had two children with her captor. But families with missing children see a silver lining: 'Don't give up.'
San Francisco — The case of Jaycee Lee Dugard, the California woman reunited with her family 18 years after being abducted, is a rare and hopeful ending to the type of kidnapping case that often ends tragically, say advocates of missing children.
"Families who are going through this situation always have this hope," says Ms. Rudometkin. "But there are a lot more stories out there that end badly than good."
"What this means to them is that they have reason to hope and not to look at the statistics," she says.
There remain many question in the case. But what is known emerged in two police press conferences Thursday.
Garrido was brought in for questioning after being confronted by campus police at the University of California in Berkeley. He was handing out religious literature. Campus police did a background check and realized he was a convicted sex offender.
Apparently because he was accompanied by two young children and acting strangely, according to police, campus authorities reported him to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation parole division.
Police said they don't know why Garrido brought Dugard, two other children, and his wife, Nancy, to the parole office.
It was there that police realized that girl who Garrido called "Allissa" was actually the missing Dugard.
Police have also said that the two young girls are Garrido's and Dugard's children. The Garridos were arrested and are expected to be officially charged on Friday for the 1991 kidnapping.
Dugard, now 29, and her family are in the process of reuniting. Her stepfather, Carl Probyn, told reporters he'd lost hope. After 18 years, he didn't think he'd ever see Dugard again after she was taken on her way to a school bus stop in South Lake Tahoe.
Mr. Probyn was at one point the subject of interest in he case. But police said Thursday that the case did not involve any family members and was simply a stranger abduction.
Those sorts of kidnappings – so-called stereotypical kidnappings – make up only about 1 percent of child abductions, says Rudometkin. The vast majority of missing children are taken by relatives or people they know. They are usually returned. In 2002, the US Department of Justice said there were 115 children who had been victims of stereotypical kidnappings.
Monica Caison, executive director of the North Carolina-based Community United Effort Center for Missing Persons, says she's been hearing from the families of missing children throughout the day as they hear about the Dugard case.
For those families, she says, the news has been a sort of epiphany: "It's like, 'Wow, you don't give up on your loved one.'"