On air: Should we all be nosier neighbours?

Jaycee Lee DugardHow do we even begin to digest this story? Elation as a mother is finally reunited with her daughter after being separated cruelly for almost two decades – and after almost all hope of ever seeing her again was surely gone.

But digust and horror as the details emerge of then 11 year old Jaycee Lee Dugard’s kidnapping, sexual abuse, and confinement in squalid makeshift lodgings in a backyard in California.
She later shared those lodgings with the two children she gave birth to, fathered by her captor Phillip Garrido – a convicted sex offender.

It begs the question – how did this go unnoticed? Didn’t his neighbours see or suspect anything?

It’s true that Jaycee, now 29, was well-hidden – a video on this website shows an aerial view of how Garrido concealed her (click on “Asking Questions – how did Jaycee stay hidden“)

But wasn’t anyone’s suspicions raised in all those long years? Especially as Garrido’s registration as a sex offender was online and known among parents .

One neighbour, whose back fence was adjacent to the compound, said “I knew he was always strange. But I never saw the girl.” And a caregiver who works for a resident just two houses away said “it’s so surreal to think that this was happening 40 feet away.”

The story has echoes of the case of Natascha Kampusch, abducted at 10 years old in Vienna, and held for 8 years in a cellar. The same sorts of questions were raised then.

Have we become a ‘look-away’ society? In an effort to respect each other’s privacy, have we gone too far in keeping to ourselves? Should we all be nosier neighbours?

And before I go … check out this interesting little experiment in neighbor observations done by Michael Moore a few years ago … http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwNf-3VHRhE

84 Responses to “On air: Should we all be nosier neighbours?”

  1. 1 James Ian
    August 28, 2009 at 10:06

    If they know she was a sex offender the should have been watching him like a hawk. HIs odd behavior and compound looking backyard should have been throwing up red flags right and left to people.
    It’s like people are afraid of being critical of one another because they don’t want people to be critical of them. Like, I’ll leave you alone as long as you leave me alone.

  2. 2 Utkrist Adhikari
    August 28, 2009 at 10:19

    The wholelife of the girl is infact ruined. She had to suffer sexual abuse and probably violence which will always remain uneraseable psychological effect in her mind.On the other hand, she might have adverse effect on health due to premature sex.Furthermore, she had to stay away from her family, with a cruel srtangerfor many years.
    All these incidents occured in the society which we live in and went unoticed for several years.
    This happened due to the idea of privacy because of which no one cared about the happenings at their neighbourhood.
    I think that there can be personal privacy but there shouldn’t be social privacy.All should know who is living at their neighbourhood and what’s happening there

  3. 3 deryck/trinidad
    August 28, 2009 at 11:29

    The neighbours knew he was eccentric and therefore they hardly interacted with him. That is normal human behaviour- to ostracise those we find an enigma or odd.

    I don’t think the neighbours could be blamed. If you were my neighbour and you appeared to be to nosey I’ll be suspicious of your motives.

  4. 4 Ann
    August 28, 2009 at 11:32

    A ‘look away society’ is sadly not new. For centuries domestic violence was ignored and tolerated by communities and the law. The line between interfering in people’s private lives and acting in order to protect the vulnerable is not an easy task. But I believe that where one considers a child or adult to be at risk, to not act is to avoid one’s moral and ethical responsibilities. If we saw a crime being committed in the street we would have no problem in reporting it to the police, yet somehow when something bad may be or is happening behind closed doors it gets seen in a different light? I find that bizarre – a crime is a crime regardless of where it happens.

    • 5 patti in cape coral
      August 28, 2009 at 13:40

      Hi Ann, good to hear from you! I was a little worried when I didn’t see you post for a while and asked WHYS about you. I guess I was being nosy!

  5. 6 anu_D
    August 28, 2009 at 11:59

    This is a bizzare story…..almost as unbelievable as that of the Austrian man convcited for incest, who kept his daughter locked for 2 decades and had children with her.

    These ghastly, perverse, idiosyncratic stories are 2 in a million exceptions….immensely readable and provoking……but by no means representtaive of normal humanity around us…and hence not the yardstick to make a judgementto poke nose into neighbours houses and lives.

    I’d rather leave the privacy of the world as it is…..there are a lot more good human beings than perverse ones

  6. 7 Dennis Junior
    August 28, 2009 at 12:59

    After some heavy thinking about it, we need to get more nosier in our neighbours affairs…..

    Specially, if there is suspicions regarding problems……

    =Dennis Junior=

    • 8 Maxine
      August 31, 2009 at 09:24

      It is not a matter of getting nosier in our neighbors affairs. When new people arrive on my street, I introduce myself , sometimes give a plant, it’s a good way to get to know your neighbors in a friendly way. “No man is an Island” said the poet John Donne – how true!

  7. 9 patti in cape coral
    August 28, 2009 at 13:00

    What can be said about this? It’s horrible. We all live very private lives nowadays, and most of the time I think it’s a good thing, but I agree with James Ian that if he was known to be a sex offender there should have been more scrutiny. Unfortunately, I really believe that even if we do everything we should, these things are going to happen from time to time anyway. I’m not sure how far we should go in being “nosy.”

  8. 10 Henry Nyakoojo, Kampala
    August 28, 2009 at 13:17

    Some in Africa sometimes blame our more open socialisation for our continued poverty. The context of the extended family and our “wellcome to everyone” attitude drains resources from the family as it leads to unplanned expenditure. The “western” arrangement of the nuclear family is much admired and touted by some as a way to escape poverty by using resources more “rationally”. The downside of all this is that homes are a more closed affair and a recipe to conceal evil. A similar crime would be highly unlikely to be perpetrated and remain concealed for so long in a rural African setting. So may be the “west” should become more nosier. There have been too many of these kinds of happennings including the Austrian man who imprisoned his own daughter and fathered children with her.

  9. 11 gary
    August 28, 2009 at 13:17

    We are our brothers’ keepers, and our most flagrant lapses in this responsibility lie in our failures adequately to protect our children from society’s predators. I’m not speaking just of Jaycee Lee; but of the societal maggot that managed to ruin Phillip Garrido’s life by supplying him drugs, and of this previous tormentor’s tormentor as well. One predator begets another. We usually compartmentalize these horrendous events and so fail to notice the resultant cascade of predators through time. This is our “looking away” and it meaning is equally horrendous: We help train them. I say again, as a society, functional people are our only useful product. How in eighty thousand years have we failed to get this right?

  10. 12 Henry Nyakoojo, Kampala
    August 28, 2009 at 13:20

    Some in Africa sometimes blame our more open socialisation for our continued poverty. The context of the extended family and our “wellcome to everyone” attitude drains resources from the family as it leads to unplanned expenditure. The “western” arrangement of the nuclear family and where everyone minds their own business is much admired and touted by some as a way to escape poverty by using resources more “rationally”. I personally lived in Brussels, Belgium for five odd years in a semi-dettached house, but never entered my neighbour’s house, nor did he mine. The downside of all this is that homes are a more closed affair and a recipe to conceal evil. A similar crime would be highly unlikely to be perpetrated and remain concealed for so long in a rural African setting. So may be the “west” should become more nosier. There have been too many of these kinds of happennings including the Austrian man who imprisoned his own daughter and fathered children with her.

  11. 13 Dennis Junior
    August 28, 2009 at 13:24

    I am glad, that this young lady was finally found and, will get the necessary Mental and other help that she will need to make a complete recovery from this ordeal….

    =Dennis Junior=

  12. 14 scmehta
    August 28, 2009 at 13:29

    This is appalling and apathetic; How can such crimes go unnoticed or unsuspected in the close vicinity of a proclaimed offender?
    I think we are increasingly becoming selfish, materialistic and indifferent towards each other, be it society in general or neighborhood in particular. It’s high time that we show some more concern and alertness, especially towards our neighbors; That is certainly not being nosy.

  13. 15 Jim Newman
    August 28, 2009 at 13:31

    Hello again
    I grew up in a very small village and I have now returned to my roots, as it were, and live in a very small village. Everyone is nosey and nobody is anonymous. I like it like that.
    The village still has a hard core of original families who have worked and farmed for centuries and even if I am a stranger and will never be fully accepted I feel that I belong here and am respected.
    The more diverse a community becomes the more selfish and uncaring are it’s individuals until the individuals themselves do not know who they are or where they belong. This sets the scene for the terrible abuses and mass killings that hit the news more and more frequently.

  14. 16 patti in cape coral
    August 28, 2009 at 13:51

    @ Henry in Kampala – You have a good point. When I have visited my husband in a poor part of his home town, there is a long row of small apartments that are attached, and the roof is actually resting above the walls, for air circulation, since it is so hot. Because of this, EVERYONE hears EVERYTHING going on in his neighbor’s house. There was virtually no privacy. Sometimes we would turn the radio up loud if we wanted some “romantic privacy”, but we weren’t fooling anyone, it was just a way of being polite. Being born and bred in the US, you can’t imagine the relief I felt to be back home and have privacy, as much as I love it there. Maybe if I stayed I would get used to it. You are right though, in that type of environment, it would be nearly impossible to get away with this kind of crime.

  15. August 28, 2009 at 14:29

    It all sounds a little bit 1984 to me. There are people paid to be nosey,like social services,although it did not help baby P. But that was sheer ineffiencey.
    Nosey neighbours? No thank you.

  16. 18 Ann
    August 28, 2009 at 14:40

    Hi Patti

    Thank you so much for your kind sweet words 🙂 Wasn’t too well for a bit, but feeling more like myself again. And it’s good to be back!

    What a sad story this is isn’t it? One wonders if Jaycee and her children will ever recover from such a horrific ordeal. Hopefully every assistance will be given to her and her entire family to help them come to terms with this.

    As Henry says in his post above, one of the down sides of our nice, comfortable private lives in the west is that we become cut off from our neighbours. I think we all lose something as a result. I like the phrase that Gary uses – we are our brothers keepers. Henry mentions living in Brussels – I live just outside Brussels in what sounds like similar sort of area. My daughter was across from Scotland for a visit and whilst here, the next door neighbours had truly enormous delivery of logs. My daughter immediately went out to help to the chap move and stack all his logs. He was astounded and a bit perlexed to begin with and said “people don’t do things like that anymore”. She was really surprised and said “well they do where I come from”. I see the logs every day and it makes me smile.

    • 19 Pam in US
      August 29, 2009 at 01:50

      I love this story. While it is true that we live in a world where face to face interaction has been replaced by the computer screen, the cell phone and other assorted mediums for communication, there still remains some miniscule amount of that which binds us together–the need to be a part of a caring community and to contribute to the welfare of others as needs dictate. To give and receive without expectation, with open hands and generosity unlimited… The need makes us human but the giving makes us more like God. Picture a world where everyone did more than just take up space …you’ve just pictured heaven.

  17. 20 steve
    August 28, 2009 at 15:03

    Where I live, people are very unfriendly, so to be nosy would probably get police called back and forth and would be even worse for what little societal cohesion we have here.

    The bizarre thing about this case, is that the wife was in on it too. Looks like a crazy man found a crazy women. I only hope she gets held responsible for it and doesn’t portray herself as a victim of something, she should be punished about as much as he should for enabling this horrible crime to occur.

  18. 21 John in Salem
    August 28, 2009 at 15:44

    The lesson to be drawn from this is not that we aren’t nosy enough or that laws need to be changed regarding predators and privacy – the lesson is that monsters are real, that they have always been with us and, sadly, probably always will, and that we put our children in jeopardy when we pretend otherwise.
    We don’t have to make our kids xenophobic to teach them what to do – to scream, run, fight back. The same neighbor who wouldn’t dream of intruding on the privacy of another will be the first to call the police when they see a child being taken.
    We may not be able to make all the monsters go away, but we CAN give our children the confidence in themselves that it takes to resist.

  19. August 28, 2009 at 15:47

    there’s nothing to do then call 911

  20. 23 VictorK
    August 28, 2009 at 15:47

    *@Henry Nyakoojo, Kampala, August 28, 2009 at 13:20: all across Africa there has been a revival of that ancient African institution, slavery, including sex slaves – despite the African lack of privacy that you put so much faith in. Nothing for the West to learn there.
    *The social ideal of some Western regimes – like the UK’s Labour government – is a ‘soft’ police state in which citizens’ existence and activities are recorded from birth to death on state databases, citizenship is conditional on having a state-issued & state-controlled ID card, and members of the public are eager to operate as voluntary/paid informers and spies on each other. That’s the logical end of encouraging greater ‘nosiness’ (and wouldn’t Jaycee’s ordeal have been impossible under such an arrangement?).
    *No thanks. Freedom was never supposed to be easy, or not come at a price. All that’s needed is life imprisonment or the death penalty for paedophiles, not Sovietising free societies.

  21. 24 Jade
    August 28, 2009 at 15:47

    The offender has no remorse and no shame. Distributing religious literature in a University? Lunatic or businessman? Maybe, he expects to make money out of a book deal sharing his adventures with crimes.

    • 25 Tom K in Mpls
      August 28, 2009 at 16:21

      A law was passed in the US to prevent making money from illegal activities. Especially books and movie rights. It was done something like 15 years ago.

  22. August 28, 2009 at 15:48

    Horrific things happen. This does not excuse them or accept them… it is a fact, just as the millions of acts of kindness and reaching out to others are facts in the greater world. The point is not whether society is best served by “nosier neighbors”, but rather that a story such as Jaycee’s reminds us all that evil does happen, even close to home.

    The comparison of nuclear vs. extended families and the resulting protection of all by close interconnectedness is too simplistic. I recall a recent book review by a woman who witnessed the beating of her baby sister by her mother while the adults in the same room all turned their heads.

    As a parent with a beautiful daughter, I cannot imagine the trauma for Jaycee and her family.

  23. 27 Robz
    August 28, 2009 at 15:50

    We should get to know our neighbors better,but then we would get involved in their problems.
    That’s the feeling of most americans,it’s kind of like(don’t ask-don’t tell).
    Example:A family moves in the neighborhood.After a few weeks you hear shouting and crying from the woman.Do you call the police,knock on the door,or do nothing out of fear of physical harm?
    Most do nothing.
    Caring about others around you is not an an american trait anymore.
    It’s more like:”Sorry for your luck,see yah”.
    Rob in Florida.

  24. 28 Anthony
    August 28, 2009 at 15:56

    I always check the Megans List website, and if there was some pervert living next to me with sheds, tarps, and extension cords that popped up one day, I would jump that fence and check things out in a heart beat.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  25. August 28, 2009 at 16:05

    Hi WHYSers!
    This story is as disturbing as it is heartrending! I was inclined to ask the same questions as the post above, when I saw it on CNN this morning. What I am curious to know is how do we balance privacy with snooping? And, who do we decide to snoop on and under what circumstances?

  26. 30 Tom K in Mpls
    August 28, 2009 at 16:13

    Ask that Californian college professor, Gates. There are tons of old sayings to apply to this one.

  27. 31 steve
    August 28, 2009 at 16:18

    We’re asked to “understand” why terrorists blow themselves up and kill innocents. Should we ask why pedophiles do what they do? Should they be “understood”?

  28. 32 Jade
    August 28, 2009 at 16:38

    Comparing Eastern and Western cultures, Eastern societies seem to be more “nosy”, more affected by public image and the burden of “shame.” Western societies respect privacy and democracy more: doing own things, be own person, all very individualistic; unless one aspires to hold public office, then public image becomes important.

  29. 33 Jennifer
    August 28, 2009 at 16:44

    Re: Have we become a ‘look-away’ society? In an effort to respect each other’s privacy, have we gone too far in keeping to ourselves? Should we all be nosier neighbours?

    I think this situation is just disgusting. To think that something so horrific was going on in a neighborhood full of clueless people is scary. The man (a sex offender) was even visited by his parole officer at home with the parole officer never knowing. It’s n thing if people don’t want to be “friendly” but when they think something is seriously wrong; they should impose.

    I hope for the sake of the man’s wife that she did not know what was occuring. However, if she did; why didn’t she do something to help this girl? I think she knew full well what was going on and she did nothing! She should be held accountable for her part in allowing this to happen.

    • 34 Chrissy in Portland
      August 28, 2009 at 18:20

      From the reports I’ve heard, it sounds like the wife is suspected of being in the car when Jaycee was kidnapped. As far as her not knowing… how could she not know? It went on for 2 decades in her back yard.

      One neighbor commented that she heard children playing in the backyard and that she suspected they lived in the tents, but that when she talked to her husband about it, he basically told her to mind her own business.

  30. August 28, 2009 at 16:49

    The cardinal rule is respect and knowing that inquisitiveness would be resented.Being a good neighbour involves healthy respect for privacy. Nosiness will create feuds or extreme bad feeling. So while it is good to be helpful and cultivate warm friendships with one’s neighbours, one should not cross the line. There are tell-tale signs when one’s presence is not welcomed. But these skills take time to acquire. One cannot blame Garrido’s neighbours for not trying to find out more about the goings-on in his plot of land as he was known to be a weirdo.

  31. 36 John in Salem
    August 28, 2009 at 16:59

    Regarding sexual predators – I think that most states now have similar systems to what we have in Oregon. Here, you go to


    type in your address, and you get a map showing all the registered sex offenders living within a one mile radius.
    The place we just moved to in Lake Oswego shows none, while the house we left in Salem, the state capitol, had 25!

  32. 37 Pedro
    August 28, 2009 at 17:06

    Being nosier is not the best approach, IMHO, since we’d be solving a problem by creating another (lack of privacy). It’d be more effective if psychologists and neurologists gathered together and started a research on why strange sexual appetites develop in certain people. This way they could target the anomaly with proper medicine and treatment and prevent these individuals of becoming potentially dangerous for the society.

  33. 38 brinda,India
    August 28, 2009 at 17:08

    I agree with Robz.
    Its not only i America ” do not care attitude”/ look away” i think is spreading very where.
    People are so busy with their own life and their own problems.

    Coming from India i know at some point people had that fear of “Society”.Now no one cares.it has its advantages but look at the disadvantages.

    This a really alarming situation.

    I think we all should become a little nosy. Its better to be preventive than sorry.

  34. 39 Chris in Ohio
    August 28, 2009 at 17:21

    This story is so twisted, in every aspect, that Jaycee and her children can never hope to lead anything close to “normal” lives. Some speak of retribution for the heinous acts committed by her captor, but that same wretched person, and his wretched wife and co-captor, is also the father of her own teenage daughters.

    I can’t begin to imagine what they’ve been through and, worse, what they’re going to have to go through.

    As far as neighbors, I’ve always made it a point to befriend and get to know our neighbors, although I agree that in the USA, especially in suburban areas and housing developments, it has become increasingly the norm for neigbors to know nothing of each other, and to have no contact whatsoever. That, in my estimation, is truly sad.

  35. 40 Tracy in Portland, OR
    August 28, 2009 at 17:27

    I don’t advocate nieghbors peering over hedges but certainly if there is odd behavior by a neighbor it should be noted. If it is serious enough reported.

    I think it is important to note he was a known sex offender. Did the people in his nieghborhood not know that? If he was seen out with the young children, like he was when he was ultimately caught, something should have been done. He was visited in his home by a member of some branch of community corrections, just how thoroughly do we inspect homes, and property of sex offenders? Are they scheduled inspections or suprise ones? This is an opportunity to learn, and fix things. And a lesson. These people do not get cured. They will always be a threat to society.

    Portland OR

  36. 41 Keith- Ohio
    August 28, 2009 at 17:30

    What’s the point of convicted sex offenders having to inform the community about their crimes if no one puts them under any additional scrutiny? This is the only reason I think that the neighbors maybe should have watched him a little more closely. This was a horrible, unbelievable crime.

  37. 42 Nelson Isibor
    August 28, 2009 at 17:31

    There is something such as being a good neighbour but there is always a thin line between being nosy (looking for what’s none of your business) and being genuinely interested in what your neighbours are doing. If your neighbour chooses to keep to himself why should you start nosing around?

  38. 43 steve
    August 28, 2009 at 17:38

    I remember my 12th grade english teacher always saying in regards to some form of literature, that there is a saying “good fences make good neighbors”. People here keep to themselves.

  39. 44 Shannon in Ohio
    August 28, 2009 at 17:55

    Here in the west, people often mourn the loss of community–but “community” is a double-edged sword.

    While it is true that communities around the world often come together and help one another in the worst of times, it is also true that communities around the world choose scapegoats and rise up against them as angry mobs. In the past, “nice” white Christain suburban communities in the U.S. forced out Jewish families and then African-American families who tried to move in. Strong, highly-regarded Amish communities shun those Amish who stray from their beliefs. In the past, many rural communities in the U.S. routinely turned their backs on families with loved ones who were observably disabled, or who were nursing a loved one with cancer.

    The same rule is in evidence around the world. In Africa, some solid villages expell those members dying of HIV/AIDS. In some Muslim countries women are whipped by public officials for being raped.

    Where were the caring neighbors? Where was the loving community? Oh, that’s right– they were the ones enthusiastically throwing the stones.

  40. 45 Andrew in Australia
    August 28, 2009 at 18:10

    The problem is that if you try to be a decent neighbor then you will be labelled as something rather bad. If you play the local policeman people do not appreciate it. In essence I would say that it is best to keep yourself to yourself as it is not worth getting a bad reputation as a snoop or something worse and let the chips fall where they lay. If something bad happens well that’s your problem not mine. I don’t expect anyone here to help me so why so I put myself out to help those who will not appreciate it. I have learnt through bitter experience that it doesn’t work out well in the end no matter what your good intentions were at the time.

  41. 46 themoi
    August 28, 2009 at 18:10

    This is exactly the reason sex offenders should be locked up and the key thrown away. They CANNOT be rehabilitated or reformed and are more than likely to re-offend and ruin other lives. That his wife knew and was complacient is even worse.

  42. 47 Tiffany
    August 28, 2009 at 18:12

    I think that we shouldn’t be ‘nosier’ neighbors, we should become better neighbors. The saying ‘It takes a village…’ isn’t just a saying, it’s sage advice. We as communities must come together and be the kind of members of the community who not only know our neighbors but care for them as well. I’m sure that there were plenty of people who commented on those weird people who lived in that little house, but none who took the time to really extend themselves to these people more than once or enough to peak their suspicions earlier. Thank goodness that officer did his job and followed his instinct that something was off.

  43. 48 Andrew in Australia
    August 28, 2009 at 18:16

    My advice to anyone is that in case something obvious happens.. then go ahead and be a good citizen and report it to the authorities. But in any other case, especially if you have no proof then play it safe and protect yourself let others deal with it. I remember a case where a man was subjected to a horrendous hate campaign and as he lived alone and looked socially unattractive he was painted as an extremely unsavoury character and eventually had to move. When the glamour couple that all the others in the area thought were so wonderful and supported as they had kids and were so friendly etc etc were finally unmasked as abusers, did that man find any solace or forgiveness, were efforts made to publicly clear his name? Of course not. A life ruined by trying to do the right thing to help people. Let’s face it most people do things over the fence that are questionable and if brought to light will do everything to make those raising the issue out to be the bad guy.

  44. 49 Shannon in Ohio
    August 28, 2009 at 18:17


    The quote is from a well known Robert Frost poem–either you didn’t listen or your English teacher didn’t get the poem.

  45. 50 Marc
    August 28, 2009 at 18:18

    What we need to be are friendlier, rather than nosier neighbors. If people spy on one another, it is only going to drive neighbors apart, and prevent the community from coming together to take actions to protect its most vulnerable members. We need unified, caring communities to prevent tragedies like this, not busy-bodies.

  46. 51 steve
    August 28, 2009 at 18:23

    Let’s not forget we’re talking about California here. In San Francisco, you can be harassed on the street for smoking a cigarette by someone who is smoking pot.

  47. 52 steve
    August 28, 2009 at 18:27

    Also, this is insane about suggesting calling the police on people who are weird. I was grocery shopping several years ago, and this guy who was bizarre would walk up to everyone and apologize, for something different each time. He walked over to me and said he was sorry for burping. He was just weird, probably trying to practice social skills. Should I have called the police based upon that? Of course not.

  48. 53 DrLoco
    August 28, 2009 at 18:28

    I think the issue is not whether or not we should be nosier neighbors: we should NOT! This man was on supervised parole. It might be better in this instance to say that this man SHOULD HAVE BEEN on supervised parole. The fact of the matter is that he was not supervised adequately or he would never have gotten away with this for so long. Perhaps if we put more care and energy and funding into prevention and rehabilitation instead of just sending everyone off to prison and forgetting about them things like this might not happen. And let’s not forget that law enforcement spent (wasted might be a better term) a great deal of time and resources in suspecting this girl’s step-father. Who, by the way, cooperated from the beginning. So, not only did the system fail to find this girl sooner it would seem that the system went out of its way to destroy their marriage as well. Furthermore, this man was on parole and supervision. No search warrant was ever needed for his parole officer to enter the home at any time!

  49. 54 Marc
    August 28, 2009 at 18:31

    In a recent special report, the ECONOMIST reported that there are nearly 700, 000 registered sex offenders in the US, including for relatively minor offenses like streaking at sports games, and consensual sex between an 18 year-old and a 16 year-old. What the US needs is a more sensible system for registering and monitoring sex offenders that does not overwhelm the police with the responsibility of monitoring relatively harmless people, thus allowing them to focus their resources and manpower on those that are truly dangerous.

    August 28, 2009 at 18:36

    Interesting to see this guy described as a evangelical Christian, cult members use mind techniques to snare members. this girl must have been brain washed to remain with her Abductor.

  51. 56 Alex
    August 28, 2009 at 18:36

    We don’t need nosier neighbors. However we certainly should know our neighbors. I know my neighbors, my neighbors know me. Because we know each other when some thing is out of the ordinary we recognize it. People look out for one another’s safety.

    Now in this particular situation, the system failed. The authorities couldn’t investigate because they didn’t have probable cause, and as we in the US have constitutional protection against unreasonable search and seizure. But this is also an aberration. The number of cases like this are very very rare. This shouldn’t be the situation we using as an example.

  52. 57 steve
    August 28, 2009 at 18:41

    If you want to see the extremes of being nosy neighbors, watch the Twilight Zone episode called “Monsters are due on Maple Street”.

  53. 58 Jeremy from Lansing MI USA
    August 28, 2009 at 18:42

    Neighbors do not need to be nosier, they need to be more friendly and communicative with their neighbors. If the neighbors had some kind of neighborly relationship with the man, they would realize that a child showed up out of nowhere and would/should have questioned the appearance as well as the reason for keeping her in the backyard. Also, in the United States, all sex offenders are required by law to be registered. I am not sure about other states, but in Michigan you can pull up a map of your neighborhood and find out if there are any sex offenders living around you and exactly where they live.

  54. 59 Saurav Upadhyay/ Saint Louis USA
    August 28, 2009 at 18:49

    I’m a Nepalese student here in the US. I’ve lived in my current apartment for two years now and I still don’t know my neighbours. I don’t know why but no one in my apartment complex want to talk. I have tried but I feel like they don’t really want to talk to me…..In places like Nepal this would never happen because everyone knows their neighbors. Its not about being a nosy neighbor, its just about knowing them and helping them out when they are in need and talking to them when one feels that something is going a wry.

    • August 31, 2009 at 11:30

      Saurav, I used to teach ESL in the US. Many of my students felt as isolated as you feel in St. Louis. Now I am living in Norway and experiencing the isolation that my former ESL students felt. It seems to be the fate of “outsiders ” in N. America and in W. and N. Europe. I would almost welcome the occasional intrusion of a nosy neighbour here!

  55. 61 steve
    August 28, 2009 at 19:01

    @ Saurav

    It depends where you live. In the DC are people are very unfriendly. When I would go to Kansas City, people were much friendlier, and neighbors would talk to each other. It just depends where you live.

  56. 62 margaret
    August 28, 2009 at 19:22

    We can start with asking why this perpetrator was wandering around loose free to commit this horrible crime instead of being in prison or in a mental ward. I suspect it is because America’s prisons are full of nonviolent drug offenders and we don’t have enough room for all the real criminals. Secondly, I have to wonder how is it this guy is married and why was the wife apparently complicit in this nightmare. And to add insult to injury, he has some kind of religion blog. As far as being aware of what your neighbors are up to, I’ve lived in many places where it would really be hard to know what might be going on behind closed doors–including more isolated areas where there is quite a bit of space between houses. This American version of Josef Fritzl apparently very carefully planned out (before he abducted the girl) and was successful at hiding his activities also due to careful planning. The only reason he got caught is pure serendipity. Happily, I can see clearly into the back yards of my neighbors on both sides.

    Margaret Tacoma, WA

  57. 63 Macq
    August 28, 2009 at 19:26

    Such a thing would never ever happen in Africa setting. This is because Africans have better moral values that would never allow such a thing to take place. The man would never ever be able to leave with himself, not for 18 year!!!!!

    Macq, Nairobi Kenya.

    • 64 Tom K in Mpls
      August 28, 2009 at 20:19

      If you have seen the same headlines out of Africa as the rest of us over the last six month, you would understand why your statement is laughable. It would be nice if this is true in the Nairobi area. But the world sees activities as bad, though somewhat different, happening routinely in Africa.

    • 65 patti in cape coral
      August 28, 2009 at 20:22

      I’m sorry Macq, there are so many things wrong with that statement, I don’t know where to begin. Just suffice to say that Africans do not have a monopoly on morality, and Africans have allowed plenty of terrible, immoral things to take place, just like people everywhere else in the world.

    • August 28, 2009 at 21:54

      Right Marc, nothing bad happens to children in Africa. How deep is your head burried in the sand. Better moral values? You need to read the news from Africa.

    • 67 Pam in US
      August 28, 2009 at 23:28

      While it may be that Aficans are more moral than Americans, this story hardly proves that point. Considering the fact that this girl was so hidden from view and the effects of Stockholm Syndrome, it comes as no surprize that these monsters got away with this most awful crime for so long. Nosey neighbors who trespass will find themselves the defendants in law suits of imprisoned for illegal breaking and entry. As for “morality” of the neighbors? They’d have to be psychic to know she was there and without some evidence, not even weird persons like this freak can be investigated. I question your definition of morality, however. Perhaps there exists some moral reason why female genital mutilation is practiced in more than 50 percent of the districts in Kenya. These practices are most widespread in Kisii, where more than 95 percent of young women are circumcised by age 12! Are these little ones not worthy of moral consideration or do Kenya’s people consider the horrendous, damnable practice a “beneficial” procedure?
      May God have mercy and bring their sufferings to an end.

    • 68 Rick
      August 29, 2009 at 19:38

      Your comment is not true. Sexual violence does exist in Africa. Here is a story done by NPR:

  58. 69 Macq
    August 28, 2009 at 19:52

    unless you are assured of WPP by the police then it can be very risky in some parts of the world to go tell on your neighbour. If the police comes around and find there was nothing to be arlarmed about then that neighbour has just turned from being a good neighbour to being an enemy. – Nairobi.

  59. 70 Steven/Sacramento, CA
    August 28, 2009 at 21:45

    Your reporting is very incomplete! I suggest you consult the Sacramento Bee (you quoted one of their reporters) regarding the facts. At least some of the neighbors knew Mr. Garrido was a registered sex offender. What are the neighbors supposed to do – hold regular raids of his property? This is a very strange, rare, and horrible event. Taking it as an example of the entire society is nothing short of sensationalism. That certainly wasn’t the attitude with the Austrian case!

  60. 71 sumedh
    August 29, 2009 at 07:39

    we in NEPAL even know whatever the neighbour’s cook .so we dont have such problem as in the west

  61. 72 SparklingLawrence
    August 29, 2009 at 11:13

    This is very bad for the young girl. However this must be a wake up to everyone that anything can happen to your neighbour whether good or bad.

    Sometimes your neighbour could be sick and stays alone what happens? and may not even have your phone number just becuase you must mind your business shame, In africa those years are too many to be unnoticed.

    Lets encourge the young girl to start a new life now.

    Laurence, in Kitwe

  62. 73 Leonet Reid - Jamaica
    August 29, 2009 at 16:21

    Hello WYHS listeners, i am from teh countryside of Jamaica whee communities are closely knitted, everyone knows who there neighbours are and and who their neighbours kids are and who they affliate themselves with. In previous times, around the time of my mother’s generation, the community was much closer because neighbours were entrusted the duty to grow their neighbours child and be keen to any misbehaving. In recent times, the community has grown a part as families become asocial and, as we would say, “look-awayers”. Sadly, as a result of this disfunctional community, the communal family has broken down where older people which not to comment or even act on acts that are seen as culturally rude. This might be caused by ones effort to keep his or her own life, or it may be that the community has adapted a laissez faire mentallity and grant neighbours too much privacy. On the other hand, as a good citizen, patrons should not try to encrouch on others personals space , but at the same time should be keen if change has occurred in the equilibrium of the community. In this instance, we are not sure if the neighbours had any knowledge of a kidnapping or even the criminal record of their neighbour. Also, this horrifing kidnapping that went on for 18 years illustrates how the mores in society are tainted. As a society we should not try quick to judgement and isolate someone because of their criminal records because it is my opinion that if a criminal lives in my community, he or she will be of high interest ( in the sense of being suspiscious of that person).

  63. 74 Rick
    August 29, 2009 at 19:56

    Many who have posted have been saying the same thing. We don’t need to be nosey, but we need to get to know our neighbors. Thankfully, my neighborhood is very friendly and we not only know people next to us, but all over the neighborhood. We also have block parties, easter egg hunts, etc. It helps that our association owns a park, pond, pool, tennis courts and walking and biking trails. All of these things help bring people together.
    People need to get away from the TV & PC after work and take time to get to know the people around them. People need to be observant, not nosey. This may also help to notice anything suspicious without having to be nosey. A neighborhood crime watch can also help.

  64. 75 James Ian
    August 30, 2009 at 02:54

    Why was this freak ever let out of jail after what he did to the first woman? The way we deal with sexual predators has got to change!! I hate drugs and the people who use them but why are we crowding our jails with pot smokers and setting sex offenders loose to make room to the pot heads. It just doesn’t make sense. No one that could do to that woman what he did could have ever been rehabbed. The people who set him free should be held acountable. And then the lazy cops who didn’t investigate complaints, I don’t know how they can live with themselves. They need to resign and let someone who is not so lazy do the job.
    I wanted to vomit when I heard about this!

    • 76 Rick
      August 31, 2009 at 16:12

      It made me sick too. I have two girls and can’t bear the thought of something like that happening to them.

      I agree with your post. People who commit violence against another person should be locked up for life.

  65. August 30, 2009 at 11:04

    I was unsettled by the informal radio broadcast reported by the BBC News where the kidnapper used the recording to his advantage to report unconfirmed information and gain possible ghoulish interest in the next instalment.
    I expected this to be reported online or by the tabloids. However IMO this was a report where the BBC should have taken the moral high ground and refused to allow the one sided advertising audio report

  66. 78 James Ian
    August 30, 2009 at 13:14

    I hope someone puts togrther a fund raising project for this girl and her children. 18 years of her life, her childhood, was taken from her and she will never be able to get it back. Those who can should make sure she is spoiled rotten for tthe rest of her life to try and make up for this. Not just for her but for ever other child that has been taken. Those who failed her like the police, parole officer, neighbors and those who set this guy free after the first attack should be the first to contribute. She and her children should have an all expence paid month long trip to Disney World and any other place they want to go. I would contribute and pray to God that some legitimate fund is set up. Get them in the best school available and even collage if they want.
    Please, if anyone is reading this that can make something like this happen, please do.

  67. 79 Hardik
    August 30, 2009 at 16:43

    What????i mean 20 years and the neighbor didn’t know. I think in the verge of modernization we are in fact forgetting the way of socializing. I m from Nepal and in my country i m sure this event would not take place , the people here are more socialized.

  68. 80 John Salkeld
    August 31, 2009 at 11:02

    Yes, I think we should all spy on our neighbours. We could report them to the authorities for improper use of their waste bins, for using the wrong kind of light bulbs, not conforming to health and safety laws – the list is endless.

    Perhaps the Stasi could then award us Brownie points, maybe holiday vouchers or tax exemption vouchers as a reward.

  69. August 31, 2009 at 11:12

    The concept of noisy neighbbour does not exist in Africa. It is assumed that your neighbours are keeping an eye out for your car, house , children etc. If not there is always the mama mboga who sells vegetables,the guy who washes your car ,the kiosk owner, the guy who polishes shoes- all ready with news of any thing new or strange in the neighourhood. I have lived in the West and the unfriendliness was excruciating .For me this is the main reason why this could never happen in Africa , its not a question of morality but culture. After all anyone keeping to themselves in Africa is either from the West or suspect.

  70. 82 ALAN HESTER
    August 31, 2009 at 12:33

    Unfortunately, I live in America, where the police would rather kill me. I will NEVER report anything to the police!!!

  71. 83 T
    August 31, 2009 at 18:28

    It’s beyond sad how often these key things happen in situations like this:
    He seemed weird. But I never thought about it.
    He seemed so “normal.” He’s the last one I’d suspect of doing such a thing.

    If it’s a matter of child rape/torture/murder, what do you tell the victim’s family or loved ones when you suspected something but DIDN’T say anything?

  72. 84 Michelle from Jamaica
    August 31, 2009 at 20:29

    I am saddened to learn that this young girl’s life has bee ruined by these monstrous people. I hope she will someday be able to adjust to some form of a normal life. In Jamaica we are very “nosey” and I know someone would check out the tent round the back. I know I would. People are different and I cannot blame the neighbours; that’s the society there. It is difficult to prevent these perverts from carrying out their crimes, but I think a little ‘nosey’ is sometimes good. we have’nt had any case like that here; (not thia I have hear of). I hope we see no more of these horrific crimes against young women!

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