Arrest of kidnap suspect Phillip Garrido hinged on instincts and diligence of two members of UC Berkeley police force
| 28 August 2009
BERKELEY — Alert action by two members of the UC Berkeley police force played a key role in Wednesday's arrest of kidnapping suspect Phillip Garrido and the return of Jaycee Lee Dugard, who in 1991 at age 11 was abducted from her South Lake Tahoe neighborhood.
"He had two little girls with him and they didn't look right," Lisa Campbell, manager of the UCPD special-events unit, says of her initial encounter with Garrido on Monday, when he came to her office to inquire about holding a campus event related to a group called "God's Desire." He said the event would be "'big' and the government was involved," she recalls.
The man's behavior seemed erratic to Campbell and the girls "sullen and submissive." She got his name and made an appointment for 2 p.m. the following afternoon. "I was meticulous in how I treated him," she says. "I didn't want him to not come back the second day."
By the time of the appointment the following afternoon, Officer Ally Jacobs had run a background check on Garrido and discovered that he was a registered sex offender on federal parole for kidnapping and rape. So she made a point to sit in with Campbell when the man returned for his appointment, promptly at 2, the two girls in tow.
Both children were pale, almost gray, they recall, as if they hadn't had much exposure to the sun. The 15-year-old stood in a peculiar position — stiffly, with her hands on the front of her legs, looking up, while "the little kid was staring at me" with "pale, bright blue eyes," Jacobs says.
The two girls "looked healthy, not malnourished, but drab. I couldn't get over the intense stare of the younger girl, like she was looking into my soul," says Jacobs. It felt, she adds, "like Little House on the Prairie meets cult with kids." For Jacobs, who has two small children, "police intuition" merged with "mother's intuition. ... I started thinking like a concerned mom."
The two UCPD employees attempted to engage the girls, asking questions that might help them get a read on the situation without alarming Garrido. What were their names? Why weren't they in school? What grades were they in? The girls mumbled odd names in reply, Jacobs recalls, and said that they were home schooled. According to Campbell, their responses about their grade levels weren't consistent, and when the 11-year-old was asked about a bump near one eye, she quickly answered that it was a birth defect. "It sounded rehearsed," recalls Jacobs. "I was taken aback by her response."
Jacobs did not have a basis on which to make an arrest. But when the man left, she called his parole officer in Concord, recommending that he check up on Garrido. When she came to work Wednesday morning, she had a telephone conversation with the parole officer, who seemed surprised to hear about the girls. Garrido didn't have any daughters, he asserted.
"My heart dropped. 'These are kidnapped kids!'" Jacobs recalls thinking. It wasn't until driving home that she heard the news of Garrido's arrest." As the story began to unfold, "I couldn't believe I was part of something so big," she says. "People are saying I was a hero. I don't accept that. I was just doing my job."
"I'm just grateful to have had an impact," adds Campbell. "It's a relief that those kids now have a chance for a life."
In a statement Friday afternoon, UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau commended the two officers and the UC Police Department for "exemplary" work. "Officer Ally Jacobs and Police Specialist Lisa Campbell displayed the intelligence, training, and professional intuition that are required of the best in police work," he said. "This week that commitment resulted in a breakthrough in an 18-year-old kidnapping, and more importantly, it provided the opportunity for two children and their mother to live a new life, one that we all hope will bring them a full measure of happiness."
More about the two officers
Lisa Campbell, 40, was born and raised in Chicago, Ill. She worked in the Cook County Sheriff's Office for four years and gained experience in the juvenile court and corrections at the county jail. For eight years she was also an officer in Chicago, where she worked youth investigations. Campbell next worked with the San Diego district attorney's office for two years as a welfare-fraud investigator, and spent three years as a background investigator for the Los Angeles Police Department. Lisa joined UCPD in January 2009 as manager of the special-events unit.
Ally Jacobs, 33, was raised in Southern California. She received a B.A. from San Francisco State University and worked for one year as a public-safety dispatcher there. Prior to coming to UCPD, Jacobs also spent one year as a police officer in Concord. She joined UCPD in 2001 and became a police officer in 2002; she is currently a field-training officer.