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Nancy Garrido appears in El Dorado County Superior Court in Placerville, Calif., Friday afternoon, Aug. 28, 2009, to face 29 felony counts, with her husband Phillip Garrido, in the abduction case of Jaycee Dugard. Gilbert Maines, left, represented Nancy Garrido. The Garridos entered a plea of not guilty and are being held without bail. (Karl Mondon/Staff)
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If she helped strip a young girl of her innocence and perpetrated a heinous, 18-year-long crime that has shocked the world, Nancy Garrido never showed it when she arrived at work to help people who couldn't help themselves.

Nancy Garrido worked as a state-licensed aide for a respected nonprofit agency that serves 1,000 adults and children with disabilities, mostly in Contra Costa County, even as police say she helped Phillip Garrido keep Jaycee Dugard isolated and under sexual attack for years, authorities say.

She worked full-time for Contra Costa ARC from December 1994 until March 1998, arriving with stellar references as a nursing aide and physical therapy aide, said Barbara Maizie, the agency's executive director.

"The people who received services through her, they liked her very much. She was a good employee and she was well-liked by the people she worked with," Maizie said. "They cannot believe that this is possible. They're totally shocked."

Maizie said Nancy Garrido worked with adults only. She arrived with a valid California Nurse Aide license, a history of nursing home work and a long résumé with both in-state and out-of-state references dating to 1981, Maizie said.

That's the same year 26-year-old Nancy Bocanegra married Phillip Garrido in Leavenworth, Kan., while he was an inmate in a federal penitentiary, a copy of their state marriage license shows. Phillip Garrido was serving a 50-year sentence for the 1976 kidnapping of a Harrah's casino card dealer he took across state lines to rape in a warehouse.


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It is unclear how Bocanegra met Garrido, but one report says she was visiting a relative in prison. Property records show Nancy Bocanegra living in Denver, then moving to Leavenworth in the mid-1980s. Officials could not be reached for information about licenses she may have held in those states.

Phillip Garrido was transferred in 1986 to a maximum security facility in Lompoc before his release in 1988 after 11 years, a federal prison spokeswoman said. Three years later, Jaycee Dugard was snatched from a South Lake Tahoe street outside her house. Authorities say Nancy Garrido, now 54, matches the description of a woman seen in the sedan that spirited Jaycee away.

When Nancy Garrido first came to work at the Martinez-based agency, Dugard was in her teens and having the first of two girls that Phillip Garrido fathered, living in a hidden backyard lair of tents and shacks behind the Garridos' Walnut Avenue house in unincorporated Contra Costa County, police say.

Among the 29 felony charges that El Dorado County prosecutors leveled against the couple last week is a count of forcible rape against Nancy Garrido from the month she began work at the agency, and six other counts of forcible rape against Nancy or Phillip Garrido during her tenure.

Both pleaded not guilty on Friday and are being held without bail.

Maizie declined to detail Nancy Garrido's personnel file, citing privacy concerns. She said the agency ran a state background check when it hired Garrido; it came back clean.

"Just 'shock' and 'disbelief' are the two words that come to mind," Maizie said of the allegations.

Maizie would not to say why Nancy Garrido left the agency. But a neighbor, Helen Boyer, 78, told The Associated Press that she stopped to become the primary caregiver to Phillip Garrido's bedridden mother, Patricia Franzen.

Boyer said she knew Franzen for more than 30 years and often saw Nancy Garrido.

Nancy Garrido's training could help explain how Dugard could deliver two babies and now have two healthy daughters, ages 11 and 15, even though authorities said none of them had seen a doctor.

A spokesman for the state Department of Public Health said Nancy Garrido was certified as a nurse assistant in California beginning in March 1989, until she failed to renew her license in 1995. Her training did not include assisting with childbirth, said spokesman Ken August.

A top El Dorado County prosecutor declined last week to say whether evidence shows that Nancy Garrido physically participated in what police describe as a years-long series of rapes against Dugard, saying they only need to prove she aided and abetted with knowledge of the crimes.

But suspicions are boiling over her role, particularly because Garrido was locked up in federal custody, albeit briefly, on an unspecified federal parole violation in 1993. Felicia Ponce, a spokeswoman for the federal Bureau of Prisons, clarified Wednesday that Phillip Garrido spent 38 days in a secure facility before he was released to home confinement supervision in May 1993.

During that time, his wife watched over Jaycee Dugard, authorities told The Associated Press.

"You can reasonably infer from the charging document that the wife was doing that," said former U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott, who is acting as a special spokesman for the El Dorado County District Attorney's Office.

Through an assistant, Nancy Garrido's lawyer declined a Times request on Wednesday to discuss the case. But on NBC's "Today" show, lawyer Gilbert Maines suggested that his client, too, was a victim of her husband's suppressive control.

Though Nancy Garrido is suspected as the one who physically snatched Dugard from the street 18 years ago, Maines said he's considering arguing that she may not have been fully aware of the circumstances of the kidnapping.

"The crux of the matter, the argument, I think, goes to maybe her mental condition at the time, and not so much what physically happened," he said.

Maines said his client misses the children, and said she saw them all as a family.

"What she said that I can tell you about is, there came a time that when she felt that they were a family and that she loves the girls very much and loved Jaycee very much, and that seems a little strange given the circumstance but that's what she had said to me," Maines said on "Today."

Customers say Dugard was the talented graphic designer at Phillip Garrido's printing business, and that he referred to her as his daughter. Dugard went by "Allissa" when she first arrived last week with the Garridos at a Concord parole office, before police unearthed her real identity.

One legal scholar said persuading a court to accept a brainwashing theory is particularly difficult when a large group or cult is not involved, though the concept runs through numerous cases, such as Patty Hearst, Elizabeth Smart and many others.

"We have here somebody who's not forcibly abducted, and also with access to outside authorities. So it could be argued she fell under his spell, but it would be an extremely tough sell," said Alan Scheflin, professor of law and psychiatry at Santa Clara Law School and author of "The Mind Manipulators."

"The courts are very reluctant to open up to the idea of a mind control defense. It certainly is, to say the least, a last-ditch defense."

Staff writers Malaika Fraley and Robert Salonga and The Associated Press contributed to this story. Reach John Simerman at 925-943-8072.