PLACERVILLE (CBS13) - It was exactly 30 years ago when the ultimate ending to an abduction-turned-cold case shocked the nation.
June 10, 1991 was the beginning of an 18-year nightmare for Jaycee Lee Dugard.
"She's very resilient and she's a survivor. I think there's no other way to put it," El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson told CBS13.
Pierson knows the story well. Dugard was kidnapped by Philip Garrido and his wife Nancy as she walked to the bus stop in South Lake Tahoe. Pierson remembers getting the call when Dugard was found years later in 2009.
"To find out that the little girl that was 11 years old 30 years ago today who disappeared for all that time and that she's still alive," said Pierson. "It was fantastic to get that news but it was pretty surprising."
It was especially surprising, considering the unspeakable horrors Dugard endured. She was held hostage sometimes in a shed or even tent and repeatedly raped. Dugard was even forced to bear Garrido's children, one when she was just 14 years old and another when she was 17.
"You know, he had recently gotten out of prison for a prior kidnap/rape...they're about as bad as it gets," said Pierson.
Pierson says they actually went back and interviewed Phil Garrido fairly recently on another abduction case that he turned out not to be involved in. It shows a lot has changed in 30 years in hopes of solving and preventing child abductions.
"The forensics has changed dramatically, communications between law enforcement," said Pierson. "There's a number of different things in terms of identifying when someone's gone missing. Technology has changed dramatically."
Meantime Dugard continues to amaze and inspire. She's since written two best-selling books and meets often with law enforcement to help create more victim-focused awareness among officers. She does this all while running the JAYC Foundation helping families through a major life crisis.
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