The extraordinary ordeal of Jaycee Lee Dugard, the 29-year-old Californian who emerged alive yesterday nearly two decades after being grabbed by a listed sex offender in South Lake Tahoe, California, has obvious parallels with the recent case of the Austrian, Elizabeth Fritzl.
Fritzl was held captive by her sadistic father in a cellar beneath the family home for 24 years. She was repeatedly raped and forced to bear seven children. Josef Fritzl was sentenced to life imprisonment in March this year.
Jaycee Dugard (left) was kidnapped by a total stranger, but otherwise her ordeal was not dissimilar. Phillip Garrido, now in custody, kept her hidden in a backyard compound of his home in Antioch, north of San Francisco, where he apparently raped her and gave her two children - the first when she was still 14.
Neither of Jaycee's children, now aged 11 and 15, has ever been to school or visited a doctor. It is not yet clear what condition they are
But there are also parallels with the case of Madeleine McCann (right). For while the name Jaycee Dugard may not have the same resonance in Britain, the media frenzy in California at the time of her disappearance was similar to that generated in Britain when four-year-old Madeleine disappeared while her parents were holidaying in Portugal two summers ago.
The key difference is that while Madeleine simply vanished,Jaycee Dugard's abduction was witnessed. Yet, despite a widespread campaign, complete with artist's impressions of the man and woman who abducted her, she was never found by police until this week. The First Post has pieced together what happened when Dugard went missing:
♦ THE ABDUCTION
Eleven-year-old Jaycee's stepfather, Carl Probyn, watched her walk down the road to catch the school bus in South Lake Tahoe, California, on the morning of June 10, 1991.
A grey mid-size car, possibly a Mercury Monarch, driven by an identified man now known to be Phillip Garrido, made a sudden U-turn and pulled up beside Jaycee. She screamed as a woman passenger, now assumed to be Nancy Garrido, forced the girl her into the car. It was the last time she was ever seen until this week.
Carl Probyn heard Jaycee scream, saw what was happening, grabbed his bicycle and tried to chase after the car, but to no avail. He said yesterday: "After 18 years, you do give up hope. This is a miracle."
♦ THE EARLY DAYS
Wild rumours spread quickly through the small town of South Lake Tahoe. Typical was one about a man who stopped at a petrol station the day Jaycee was taken and remarked, "We found a virgin to sacrifice."