Pursuing God and sex
As Phillip Garrido maneuvered the Ford Pinto toward the storage unit he had equipped as a hidden lair for raping women, he talked about his sexual fantasies, said Katherine Callaway, who was handcuffed and bound in the back seat.
But that wasn’t all.
“He talked a lot about Jesus on our ride, telling me about how he was going to turn himself over to God next year because Jesus was the way,” Callaway told police on a cold November morning in 1976 after Garrido raped her repeatedly over 5 1/2 hours.
Thirty-two years later, Garrido claimed he was transformed. Days before he was arrested on charges of kidnapping and rape in the 1991 disappearance of Jaycee Lee Dugard, he handed Cheyvonne Molino, who runs a Pittsburg auto wrecking yard, a four-page manifesto that he said was going to shake the world.
With God’s help, he wrote, he was able to overcome “aggressive sexual behavior” and “God willing, I will be able to teach this and other skills Christ is providing for me in the prisons through out the U.S. and over seas.”
With increasing frequency and intensity, Garrido had preached to Molino and other customers of the print shop he ran out of his Antioch-area home. They watched warily as the man they knew as simply “eccentric” turned into a religious fanatic. He told them the Creator spoke through him in the tongue of angels.
What his customers could not know was that Garrido’s life has been a struggle between his warring obsessions -- God and sex. Last week, that battle became public as Garrido’s past was revealed.
“Wait till you hear the story of what took place at this house,” Garrido told Sacramento’s KCRA-TV from El Dorado County Jail, referring to the gray cinder-block home with a hidden warren of tents and sheds where he allegedly held Dugard. “You’re going to be absolutely impressed. It’s a disgusting thing that took place with me in the beginning. But I turned my life completely around.”
Manuel Garrido, 88, describes his son as a sweet, friendly kid who liked to joke around. He played electric guitar and was in a band. He helped his parents -- a secretary and forklift operator -- and “everybody loved him.”
The family lived in a small house at the end of a dirt road in Brentwood, then a farm town not far from the San Joaquin River. Garrido and his older brother, Ron, shared a room.
But Garrido started mixing with the “wrong crowd” at Liberty Union High School, his father said, and began selling and using LSD. “After he got the LSD pills, he was gone. It ruined his life,” he said. “He didn’t want to go to school. We had a hell of a time getting him to graduate.”
Garrido received a new blue Oldsmobile as a graduation present in 1969, evidence, his father said, of how “spoiled rotten” his youngest son was. “Anything he wanted growing up, he got.”
Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll defined Garrido’s life. He was arrested for marijuana possession and left Brentwood for Reno when he was about 20, reportedly one step ahead of angry drug dealers. He did odd jobs and played bass guitar in a band.
In 1972, Antioch police allege, he met a 14-year-old girl at the city library, gave her barbiturates and took her to a motel, where she passed out. Garrido raped her while she was unconscious, police said, and when she awoke, he did it again.
Garrido was arrested on April 17, 1972. But the girl did not want to press charges, so he was free to go.
Less than a year later, he married Christine Perreira, his high school sweetheart. Christine was a blackjack dealer at a Reno casino and the main breadwinner. Garrido would later tell Callaway that “he had a very heavy sexual life with his wife, he was very happy.”
In a recent interview on “Inside Edition,” Christine Murphy said that the marriage became a nightmare. He wanted them to have sex with multiple partners. He gouged her face with a safety pin after he saw a man flirting with her.
“He started to get controlling, he started hitting me,” she said.
She bought him handcuffs at a pawnshop. He took explicit Polaroids of her. Their apartment was filled with pornographic books and magazines. And so was storage shed No. 39 that he rented in an industrial area of Reno, ostensibly so his band could practice there.
The shed was part of a warehouse complex, and Garrido covered each wall with different colored carpet. He stocked it with wine, Vaseline and a vibrator. There was a movie projector with porn films, a stack of X-rated magazines, multicolored stage lights, a bed with a tattered red satin sheet and a ratty fake fur blanket.
William J. Emery, who worked for a taxi company and lived one storage unit over, became friendly with Garrido, whom he described in a police report as an “oily long-haired musician trying to accomplish a name for his music.”
The two men would smoke dope, snort cocaine and engage in philosophical discussions. Emery said that when Garrido “was stoned, he was more involved and extreme in everything he did.” He screened porn films, Emery told police, had parties with women that he said his wife supplied and advocated “extreme” sexual practices.
LSD was his drug of choice, Garrido testified during his kidnapping trial, and he would take as many as 10 hits at a time. He believed that the drug “increases his sexual powers,” according to court documents. It also, he said, made him unable to control his sexual fantasies, an inner life fixated on rape.
He had become, according to psychiatric reports, a man with a “sexual deviation,” who masturbated in restaurants, bars and outside of schools. He exposed himself to schoolgirls as young as 7 years old.
Dressed up in a snappy denim suit on Nov. 22, 1976, he put his handcuffs in his pocket and went out to find a woman to rape. The first one that night fought him off. Callaway was not so lucky.
She had fixed dinner for her boyfriend and stopped at Ink’s A1 Tahoe Market in South Lake Tahoe for last-minute groceries. As she backed her 1975 Pinto out of the lot, she heard a tap on the window.
It was Garrido, who said that his car wouldn’t start and asked for a ride. Callaway said yes, but when she pulled over to let him out, he grabbed the keys, handcuffed her and tied her up with a belt.
As he drove toward Reno, he took four hits of acid. Callaway engaged him in conversation.
“I asked him just what aspect of this rape, or whatever it was, that he got off on,” she testified, “and he said that he didn’t get off on pain; it was just a fantasy he had to live out.”
Reno Police Det. Dan DeMaranville, who interviewed Garrido after his arrest, said he asked the 25-year-old, “Why is a good-looking guy like you doing something like this?”
“He was tall, well-built, looked like a college athlete,” recounted DeMaranville, who has since retired. “He said the only way he got sexual gratification was that way -- rape, kidnapping, force.”
At the trial, Garrido acknowledged that consensual intercourse, as public defender Willard Van Hazel put it, “isn’t your sex thing.” But he also testified that, three years before the attack on Callaway, he began to believe in God.
“You told Miss Callaway that you had discovered God or Jesus, didn’t you?” then- Assistant U.S. Atty. Leland E. Lutfy asked Garrido while cross-examining him.
“I told her I believed in him and that someday I would like to turn to him,” Garrido responded.
“Someday. It wasn’t going to be that day, was it?”
The jury found Garrido guilty of kidnapping and he was sentenced to 50 years. He later pleaded guilty to rape. He served less than 11 years at the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kan.
That’s where he met Nancy Bocanegra, the relative of another prisoner, whom he would marry. It’s also where prison officials believed that his connection to God deepened.
In a psychological evaluation after the first year of Garrido’s sentence, psychologist J.B. Kiehlbauch wrote that Garrido had joined the Jehovah’s Witnesses and became a fervent practitioner.
“He sees himself as one whose life is and will be based on his strongly held religious beliefs, and all indications are that he is conducting his affairs in accord with the principles implied therein,” Kiehlbauch wrote. “Prognosis for successful transition to the community is considered very good.”
Three years after Garrido was paroled to his mother’s house near Antioch, on a late spring day near the end of the school year, Jaycee Lee Dugard walked toward the bus stop in her South Lake Tahoe area neighborhood.
She was dressed head to toe in pink, her favorite color.
Suddenly, a two-tone gray sedan made a U-turn. Dugard was pulled, screaming, into the vehicle. It was 8:10 a.m. on June 10, 1991. Dugard disappeared for 18 years.
In that time, police believe, Garrido fathered her two children, who are now 11 and 15, and ran a home-based business called Print for Less. He was cheap and polite, his customers said.
Janice Gomes remembers the day she met Garrido. She was in a beauty salon getting her nails done when he came in soliciting business. It was 1994, she recalled, and “he told me his wife just had a baby.”
Gomes and her husband used Garrido for their home-cleaning businesses, and he also printed brochures and tickets for Gomes’ National Community Empowerment Program, a nonprofit public safety group.
Nine years ago, after 7-year-old Xiana Fairchild was abducted from the nearby city of Vallejo, the group decided to update its tip sheet for parents. Gomes recalled that Garrido made suggestions.
“He said, ‘You might want to put that parents should never let their children go to the bus stop alone,’ ” Gomes recounted. “ ‘Children are no match for an adult.’ ”
Like many print shop customers, Gomes said Garrido’s religiosity began to deepen. Last October, he came to their offices, especially excited, waving a document.
“When the FBI reads this and this comes out,” he told her, “this is going to be a beautiful story. It’s going to be worldwide. It tells how God healed me from pornography and prostitutes.”
He handed Gomes the papers. She threw them away.
“He’s so happy right now,” Gomes speculated. “This is the worldwide thing he’s talking about.”
Times staff writers Maura Dolan, Molly Hennessy-Fiske and My-Thuan Tran contributed to this report.
Get breaking news, investigations, analysis and more signature journalism from the Los Angeles Times in your inbox.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.