crimesider

Jaycee Update: Veteran Cop Who Sat in Phillip Garrido's Living Room Sensed Nothing Amiss

(Personal Photo)
Photo: Ralph Hernandez was hired as a private investigator by Phillip Garrido.

NEW YORK (CBS) A 33-year law enforcement veteran who sat in Phillip Garrido's living room and may have met Jaycee Lee Dugard, said the man accused of kidnapping and holding Dugard captive for 18 years, was "normal in every which way." And he had spoken with Garrido only two weeks before his arrest.

Photos: Inside Phillip Garrido's House
Photos: The Search For Jaycee
Photos: Jaycee Lee Dugard Found Alive
Photos: Inside Jaycee's Terror Tent

If Ralph Hernandez, who has held nearly every position from patrol officer to acting chief in three different law enforcement agencies, didn't see anything suspicious, who would have?

"I've been through a lot of homes... I've also encountered a lot of people who needed help," Hernandez said. "And this was not the situation that existed there."

Early in 2008, Garrido hired Hernandez, who works in California as a private investigator, to verify six declarations from local businesspeople stating that a black box Garrido created allowed him to communicate without speaking. Garrido did not allow Hernandez to view the device view for fear of him becoming biased, Hernandez said.

On February 1, 2008, Garrido invited Hernandez to his Antioch, Calif., home where the two sat in the living room and went over documents related to Garrido's invention. Hernandez says Garrido was "excited" about the discovery, but did not seem psychologically unstable.

While Hernandez was there, he met Garrido's wife Nancy, and "a young lady who may have been Jaycee or her oldest daughter." Hernandez said Garrido either introduced the woman as his own daughter or the daughter of a friend. He does not specifically recall.

(AP)
Photo of the Garrido home released Sept. 17, 2009 by authorities.

"He was not unusual acting, he was not dressed wrong, was not exhibiting emotional problems nor was his wife or the young lady," Hernandez said.

Garrido brazenly told the ex-police officer that he was on parole, but instead of sharing the chilling story of his first rape-kidnap in 1976, he merely told Hernandez that he had assaulted someone and "taken something from them."

The truth is that in 1976, Garrido, after allegedly ingesting four doses of LSD, kidnapped a young woman and raped her for about eight hours in a storage unit which appeared to have been set up for that purpose.

When Crimesider asked Hernandez whether he would have been suspicious of Garrido had he known of his violent record against young women, he replied "hell yes."

Hernandez added that the Garrido home when he saw it bore little resemblance to the wreck shown in recent photos. He noted that when conducting searches, law enforcement often "trashes the place" and said that that may be why the house was in a state of disarray.

In the end, Hernandez never saw anything suspicious, but, he noted, he was there to oversee paperwork, not to investigate a crime.

"If the young lady had said something, I would have done something immediately," he said. "But this was not the case, unfortunately."

He added, "In hindsight, I wish she would've said something because I sure as heck would have done something."

Jaycee Dugard was kidnapped in 1991 when she was only 11 years old. Phillip and Nancy Garrido are charged with taking the young girl, raping her, and imprisoning her, and the two children she alleged sired with Phillip Garrido, in their backyard for 18 years.

Photos: Inside Phillip Garrido's House
Photos: The Search For Jaycee
Photos: Jaycee Lee Dugard Found Alive
Photos: Inside Jaycee's Terror Tent

THE JAYCEE LEE DUGARD STORY
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  • Sammy Saltzman

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