Investigators from two police agencies were searching the home of the Jaycee Dugard kidnapping suspects Tuesday in connection with two other unsolved abductions, authorities said.
Dublin, California, police obtained the search warrant for Phillip and Nancy Garrido’s home, along with a neighboring property, in connection with the 1989 disappearance of 13-year-old Ilene Misheloff, police said in a written statement. “Dublin police have been unable to eliminate Phillip and Nancy Garrido as possible suspects in Ilene’s disappearance.” In addition, Hayward, California, police obtained a search warrant for the same locations in the 1988 abduction of 9-year-old Michaela Garecht. Both warrants were being executed simultaneously Tuesday, police said. The Garridos face a combined 29 felony counts in connection with the 1991 kidnapping of Dugard, then 11, from South Lake Tahoe, California. Authorities believe the couple held Dugard in a well-hidden compound behind their Antioch, California, home for 18 years, and have said Phillip Garrido fathered two children with Dugard. Police from both agencies said that while Garrido has not been named a suspect in the other abductions, he cannot be eliminated as a suspect in either case. There are no current plans in place to raze structures, Hayward police Lt. Chris Orrey told reporters at a news conference, but “we are very interested in what might be behind walls, under flooring, under the ground.” Authorities are prepared to “disassemble” structures if needed, she said. Watch police search the Garrido home
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Evidence collected so far from the property does not show a “strong connection” to the cases, she said, but since agencies that previously searched the property were not familiar with the Misheloff and Garecht cases, “we’re taking another shot at the property” to see what can be found. Misheloff failed to make it home from school on January 30, 1989, said Dublin police Lt. Kurt von Savoye. “For 20 years, we have been attempting to determine what happened.” There is no eyewitness that could say with certainty she was abducted, and evidence in the case was limited, he said. A witness did report seeing Misheloff getting into a vehicle, a sedan similar to one found on the Garrido property, at the time of her disappearance, von Savoye said. Garrido “has demonstrated a propensity to abduct young girls,” police said in a statement, and he was released from prison a few months before Misheloff disappeared. Dublin is about 40 miles from Antioch. Garecht was abducted by a stranger in front of a market in south Hayward on November 18, 1988, Orrey said. Over the last two decades, police have followed some 13,000 leads in investigating her disappearance. She said Hayward police have also noted similarities between the Garecht and Dugard cases. The victims were similar in age and appearance, Orrey said, and both were abducted in daylight, in a “brazen” manner. The suspect vehicle in the Garecht case is also similar to the sedan found on the Garrido property, she added, and in pictures from that time, Garrido appears to resemble a sketch of a suspect based on a witness description. A bone fragment police say is possibly human was found last week on the adjacent property — a residence Garrido has had access to, police said. “The fact that a possible human bone was located on that property is part of the reason why we are searching here today,” von Savoye said. Garrido served as the home’s caretaker for a while, police said. The current occupant is not a suspect in either investigation. Police have said the fragment would undergo testing at the state DNA lab. The search operation is expected to last at least a few days and possibly into next week, authorities said. Police have not interviewed Garrido, von Savoye said.
Orrey told reporters the warrant execution took a while to organize, as police had to verify information with other authorities, obtain the warrant and gather a number of personnel to assist. “We did it as soon as we could logistically.” Misheloff’s family is aware of the search warrant execution, but are out of town on a family emergency, von Savoye said. Garecht’s mother will be at the scene to speak to reporters later Tuesday night, Orrey said.