Jaycee Dugard wowed by freedom after kidnapping

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 07, 2011 3:33 AM
Jaycee Dugard wowed by freedom after kidnapping

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Jaycee Dugard, who gave birth to two girls fathered by the captor who kidnapped her as a child, said she is amazed at her newfound freedom, in excerpts released on Thursday from her first interview.

Dugard, 31, spoke to ABC in advance of the release next week of her memoir "A Stolen Life."

She was rescued along with her two daughters in 2009, after 18 years in captivity, when her kidnapper Phillip Garrido aroused suspicion while proselytizing at a northern California university.

Dugard has since been reunited with the family that lost her in 1991, when Garrido abducted her at age 11. She lives with her mother and the two daughters Garrido fathered with Dugard when she was a teenager.

"Now I can walk in the next room and see my mom," Dugard told ABC News' Diane Sawyer in an interview to air on Sunday.

"Wow. I can decide to jump in the car and go to the beach with the girls," Dugard said. "Wow, it's unbelievable, truly."

Authorities say Garrido kept Dugard hidden for much of her ordeal in a squalid compound of tents and sheds behind his northern California home.

Garrido was sentenced to life in prison last month after pleading guilty earlier this year to kidnapping and multiple counts of sexual assault.

His wife, Nancy, was sentenced to 36 years in prison after pleading guilty to one count each of kidnapping and rape by force.

In 2009, after Dugard's stunning rescue, her family received a $20 million settlement through a state victims' compensation fund.

The California inspector general found officials failed to properly supervise Garrido after his release from a 10-year prison term for a 1976 rape, overlooking a series of parole violations that should have led to his earlier capture.

Dugard was walking on the street near her South Lake Tahoe, California, home when Garrido kidnapped her, and she told ABC News that she remembers touching a sticky pine cone when she was trying to cling to her freedom.

"Back then (the pine cone) was the last thing I touched," Dugard said. "You know, the last grip on me. Now, it's a symbol of hope and new beginnings. And that there is life after something tragic."

The ABC interview with Dugard is scheduled to air in a special two-hour edition of "Primetime" on Sunday, from 9:00-11:00 p.m. eastern time.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Cynthia Johnston)