Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tuesday September 1, 2009

Bone fragment found as California kidnap probe expands

ANTIOCH, Calif. (Reuters) - Police in California found a bone fragment on Monday on property neighboring the house of a convicted rapist accused of kidnapping an 11-year-old girl and holding her for 18 years.

Contra Costa County Sheriff's spokesman Jimmy Lee would not say if the bone was human, but said it was discovered by officers scouring the suspect's home in Antioch, California, its backyard and a once vacant neighboring property.

Canine Specialized Search Team members arrive at the home of registered sex offender and convicted rapist Phillip Garrido in Antioch, California on August 31, 2009. (REUTERS/Kevin Bartram)

Police had erected tents on the neighboring property, blocking views of their work, which included digging and the use of dogs to sniff for cadavers.

Since the arrest last week of 58-year-old Phillip Garrido, a registered sex offender, officers have been searching his home and an adjacent property looking for evidence related to the unsolved murders of some 10 prostitutes in the 1990s in the area of Antioch, a San Francisco Bay Area suburb.

Garrido, and his 54-year-old wife, Nancy Garrido, pleaded not guilty on Friday to a total of 29 charges related to the kidnapping of Jaycee Dugard from her South Lake Tahoe, California neighborhood in June 1991.

Dugard, now 29, was found after a parole officer for Garrido became suspicious, prompting a search of his home about 100 miles (160 km) southwest of where she was abducted.

During their search, police turned up a hidden backyard within the home's backyard, where police believe, Garrido housed Dugard and their two children, ages 11 and 15, in sheds and tents in squalid conditions.