Is this the new Rose West? It is beyond belief Nancy Garrido didn't know what was going on
By Geoffrey Wansell
UPDATED: 12:43 EST, 31 August 2009
The face of 55-year-old Nancy Garrido will come to haunt the world.
Day after day her sunken eyes behind those round glasses will stare out at us - much as the mugshots of Rosemary West and Myra Hindley did - as a haunting reminder that women are as capable as men of appalling depravities.
On Saturday, Californian prosecutors claimed she played an 'equal role' with her husband in their crimes, and charged her directly with kidnapping the blonde Jaycee Lee Dugard 'for sexual purposes'.
Participant: Nancy Garrido is facing more charges than her husband for the abduction and systematic abused suffered by Jaycee Lee Dugard
They also accused her of 'forcible rape', 'committing a forcible lewd act upon a child' and 'false imprisonment by violence'. She faces no fewer than 16 charges - three MORE than her husband.
As the case unfolds, the world will ask how this apparently ordinary Californian woman - who never had children of her own - could have participated in the enforced subjugation of Jaycee.
- DAVID JONES: America's Fritzl? No, Garrido is Charles Manson Mark Two
- Jaycee Lee Dugard kidnapper is linked to the murders of prostitutes and a girl of 15
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Some will say that a woman couldn't have willingly committed such terrible crimes, that her husband must have forced her.
But as the official biographer of the late serial killer Frederick West, I am utterly convinced that Garrido, like Rosemary, not only knew what her husband was doing but was an active participant in the depraved abduction of Jaycee.
Indeed as the investigation expands, she might also face charges associated with the murder of 15-year-old schoolgirl Lisa Norrell and three prostitutes, Valerie Schultz, 27, Rachael Cruise, 32, and Jessica Frederick, 24 - all of whom died in the last two months of 1988.
Manipulated: While her husband Phillip may have exercised control over Nancy any abuse she took part in, she did willingly
Police have already declared Phillip Garrido 'a person of interest' for those crimes and it seems highly probable that Nancy, too, will be investigated for her possible complicity.
When Nancy Garrido stands trial, however, there is little doubt that her lawyer Gilbert Maines will try to convince the jury that she was an ignorant bystander.
Maines might also argue that Nancy Garrido knew nothing of the prison in her back garden.
That was exactly what Rosemary West's defence counsel, the late Richard Ferguson QC, attempted to do at her 1995 trial. The ploy failed.
The jury decided that the semi-detached house occupied by Rosemary and her husband was simply too small for Fred to have kept his crimes secret. Rose WAS an active participant.
Comparisons with the Garrido-case are all too obvious. It is simply beyond belief that Nancy could not have known what was taking place in her own back yard.
But why does a woman take part in such depravity? Details of Nancy's life story are still sketchy, but from the scraps of information which have already come to light, a sinister pattern is taking shape.
Psychologists suggest that a woman such as this, who fell for a convicted sex offender and then married him in jail, is subconsciously putting herself into his hands for abuse.
Merciless killers: Fred and Rosemary West
Seeing him as glamorous, and worldly, she would do anything he asked, even though - it is reported - he rarely had sex with her.
Nancy Garrido, like Rosemary West, might also come from an abusive family herself. It is significant that so far we have heard nothing from her parents or relatives - unusual in a high profile case such as this.
What we do know is that Nancy seems to have been raised as a Jehovah's Witness. She met Garrido - who was then serving 50 years for the rape and abduction of a 25-year-old casino waitress in Reno, Nevada in 1977 - while visiting an uncle who was also a prisoner at Levenworth prison in Kansas.
Psychologists think that Nancy, naive, impressionable and sexually inexperienced, would have been impressed, sexualised and then overpowered by Garrido's stories of sexual brutality.
Meanwhile, she served an added purpose for Garrido - she was proof to the prison authorities that he was reformed.
The fact that they married behind bars in 1988, and he was released shortly afterwards, proves how valuable she was. She gave him what seemed like a family life, and, by implication, proved that he would not offend again.
Garrido took Nancy back to his mother Patricia's house in Antioch - Patricia was separated from Garrido's-father, Manuel.
Innocent bystander? Nancy's lawyer Gilbert Maines may try to persuade a jury she was ignorant of her husband's crimes
The manipulative, shrewd Garrido would then have brought both women steadily under his spell - his mother would have become ever more dependent as she descended into dementia.
And it could well be that Nancy's religious upbringing as a Jehovah's Witness provided her new husband with another means of manipulating her - telling her, as he was to tell the world, that God spoke directly to him.
Religion would be a powerful tool in the hands of a man who wanted nothing more than to manipulate - and ultimately humiliate - any woman with whom he had a relationship.
I am certain that Nancy Garrido, like Rosemary West, was groomed and manipulated by her violent husband. But that does not make either woman innocent - they did what they did willingly.
I certainly wouldn't be surprised to hear that Nancy helped her husband rape Jaycee Lee Dugard. Rosemary West did precisely that with her stepdaughter Anne-Marie, just as she did with her own daughters thereafter. Fred insisted he had to 'break them in' for sex, as early as the age of eight - and Rosemary went along with it.
The 'alternative universe' that Nancy's husband had created for her behind their tumbledown shack in Antioch had become the only world she knew - her reality. In that distorted reality, her treatment of Jaycee was normal.
Geoffrey Wansell is author of An Evil Love: The Life of Frederick West