At 7:30 a.m. on October 14 the first photo of Jaycee Lee Dugard that the public has seen since 1991 appeared on the home page of People.com. Whether it was simply a late-breaking deal with Jaycee Dugard and the Dugard family or that the people at People magazine were just good at keeping the exclusive news close to the vest — and, therefore, avoiding any hacked “leaks” of the photo — the photo of 29-year-old Jaycee Dugard hit the internet as promised. Not surprisingly, that exclusive Jaycee Dugard photo also graces the cover of the next People magazine, due on newsstands Friday. And, of course, Jaycee Lee Dugard has something to say after being held captive in the back yard of Phillip and Nancy Garrido for 18 long years.
“I’m so happy to be back with my family,” she told People magazine in their exclusive interview. She and her family are in seclusion at present as they get to know each other all over again (and for Jaycee Dugard’s two daughters, Starlit and Angel, for the first time) and work toward her recovery and reintroduction into society.
Jaycee Dugard’s stepmother, Joan Curry, told People magazine, “They live a surprisingly normal life considering the circumstances.”
Those circumstances, once they became known, were horrific. Jaycee Lee Dugard was kidnapped from the street outside her home in South Lake Tahoe, California, on her way to the bus stop. Her stepfather, Carl Probyn, saw it all develop, saw the car swing to the curb, saw the door open, saw an adult figure grab his stepdaughter and speed away.
In the intervening 18 years, Carl Probyn, although suspected by family and some in law enforcement to have had something to do with Jaycee Dugard’s disappearance, searched for her but to no avail. Then, in August, after Phillip Garrido was ordered to see his probation officer and brought Jaycee, the two girls, and Nancy Garrido, his wife, into the office with him, she and Phillip Garrido told the story of her captivity.
Jaycee Dugard was kept in a soundproofed building, secreted away in the Garridos back yard for 18 years. Although her boundaries would increase to include the series of buildings (photos of which shocked the world) and the Garrido household over the years, the child would grow to be a teenager locked away from the rest of the world. She would endure being repeatedly raped by Phillip Garrido, a convicted sex offender, for years, becoming pregnant and having both Starlit and Angel (who are now 11 and 15) without any form of medical care.
Public statements by family members shockingly attest that all three of the once captive Dugards did not seem to suffer from a lack of education or physical deprivation of any kind.
Phillip and Nancy Garrido were arrested and later charged with a total of 29 felony counts, including kidnapping.
The Jaycee Dugard story has captivated the attention of the world since it broke. But with the millions of questions to be asked about the Dugard/Garrido case, one of the most consistently asked was, “What does she look like now?” There were descriptions, such as Carl Probyn in an interview revealing that Jaycee’s mother, Terry, said that her daughter looked just like she did when she disappeared, just older.
There is a curiosity factor involved when events of moment occur. People want to see if some sort of transformation has taken place, although most transformations take place internally. Still, it is understood that time changes a person both internally and externally, even those who exist in relatively normal circumstances. Of course, with Jaycee Dugard, 18 years had elapsed, so there were bound to be differences in her physical appearance. But her mother was correct and not simply imposing some idealized hindsight filter on her daughter’s image. The 11-year-old Jaycee Dugard had grown up but was completely recognizable in the photo of the 29-year-old Jaycee Dugard on the cover of People magazine.
But it is also understood that a photo of Jaycee Dugard will not tell her story. A two-dimensional representation cannot convey the internal scars, the suffering, and the psychological and emotional stress of a small girl held captive, isolated for years from her family and friends and forced to endure a world imposed upon her by sexual predator. And that photo can never convey the life she led, from the kidnapping to the childbearing to her exposure to Phillip Garrido, who would begin a religious transformation during her captivity and begin to treat her differently.
Only Jaycee Lee Dugard can tell her story. Perhaps one day she will.
That first photo on People magazine’s cover shows the world a smiling Jaycee Lee Dugard, all the events of the last 18 years not in evidence, at least not on her face. It is as if a forensics lab had morphed her image, made it a little larger, kept the eyes exactly the same. She seems to be none the worse for her ordeal.
But, again, it is just a two-dimensional photo…
According to the upcoming interview in People magazine, she and her daughters are doing well. And Jaycee is enjoying cooking meals, horseback riding, and spending time with her family. She is also thinking of collaborating on a book.
Because, photos aside, Jaycee Lee Dugard has a story to tell…