Courts & Crime

Questions raised over Nancy Garrido's role in Dugard kidnapping

Charlene Williams of Sacramento lured six teenage girls and four young adults to their deaths as her husband demanded the perfect "sex slave."

Michelle Lyn Michaud, also of Sacramento, customized curling irons to help her boyfriend torture and murder a 22-year-old student abducted from a Pleasanton street.

In Utah, Wanda Eileen Barzee was accused of helping her husband kidnap 14-year old Elizabeth Smart at knifepoint from her Salt Lake City bedroom so that he could secure another "wife."

Now along comes Nancy Garrido of the Bay Area. Like the others, Garrido is accused of teaming up with a male partner — in Garrido's case, her husband of nearly three decades — and allegedly committing unthinkable crimes against other women and children.

The arrests Aug. 27 of Nancy and Phillip Garrido revealed a stunning story about the 1991 kidnapping of 11-year-old Jaycee Lee Dugard, snatched off the street near her home in Meyers. Authorities say Jaycee, now 29, had been living for 18 years in the Garridos' backyard near Antioch and is the mother of two children fathered by Phillip Garrido.

While attention focuses on Phillip Garrido's history of sexual assault, his reduced prison term and evasion of parole oversight, the case also raises haunting questions about what role his wife may have played.

Was 54-year-old Nancy Garrido a full-fledged accomplice and co-conspirator, who willingly participated in the crimes? Was she a victim herself, a woman brainwashed or beaten into submission? Or was she something in between?

"Obviously, this is not normal behavior, unless she's a total sociopath," said Linda Barnard, a Sacramento marriage and family therapist and an expert in so-called "intimate partner battering."

"There's something going on here that will come out," Barnard said.

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