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Bone found near Garridos' home is 'probably human,' expert says

Contra Costa County sheriff's official says the fragment will now go to the state DNA lab for more testing. Phillip and Nancy Garrido are charged with the kidnapping and rape of Jaycee Lee Dugard.

September 09, 2009|Molly Hennessy-Fiske

A bone fragment recovered from the backyard of a home next door to suspected kidnappers Phillip and Nancy Garrido appears to be from a human, the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Department said Tuesday.

Sheriff's spokesman Jimmy Lee said an independent expert determined that the bone is "probably human," and investigators are sending it to the state DNA lab for further testing.

Officials are hoping the state "can develop a DNA profile on the fragment," Lee wrote in an e-mail statement Tuesday afternoon. "It should be noted that it is not uncommon to find Native American remains in Contra Costa County."

Lee did not return e-mails or phone calls late Tuesday. Authorities have declined to display or describe the bone, or specify exactly where it was found in the yard.

Garrido, 58, and his 54-year-old wife, Nancy, were arrested Aug. 26 and charged with 29 felony counts of rape and kidnapping in the 1991 abduction of 11-year-old Jaycee Lee Dugard, who authorities say bore Garrido two daughters after she was snatched from a street near her home in South Lake Tahoe.

Authorities have been searching for evidence that might connect the Garridos to other kidnappings and homicides in the area, but as of last week, they had not found any, Lee said.

The bone fragment was recovered after several law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, Sheriff's Department and local police, combed the backyard next door to the Garridos' home last week with dogs trained to detect human remains. Garrido took care of the property when it was vacant in 2006, authorities said, and sometimes lived in a red plank shed in the backyard. During the search, investigators dug a trench at the back of the shed about 3 feet wide and 6 feet long, but it was not clear whether the bone was recovered from that area.

The property's current tenant, Damon Robinson, allowed investigators to search there, Lee said. Robinson has refused to allow reporters into the backyard, as have authorities.

"The entire property is red-tagged and is off-limits," Lee said Tuesday.

Investigators removed a van from the property last Friday. The vehicle has not been displayed publicly because it "may be evidence," Lee said.

Dugard and her family remain in seclusion. On Tuesday, a family spokeswoman said they would not be commenting on the investigation.

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molly.hennessy-fiske@latimes.com

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