America was horrified last week to learn that Phillip Garrido, a convicted sex offender who lived in Antioch, California, had kidnapped Jaycee Lee Dugard from her home in 1991, kept her as a sex slave in a tent compound behind his home, and fathered two children with her.
Garrido aroused suspicions when he showed up at the University of California, Berkley, with two girls, ages 11 and 15. According to the New York Times, he wanted to give lectures and live demonstrations that could help people who hear voices stop before committing a violent act. The Times wrote:
On Monday, Mr. Garrido had again approached university officials about a staging a religious event and handing out literature about schizophrenia. But campus police officials found his behavior suspicious, particularly in relationship to two young girls Mr. Garrido had with him. The girls are now known to be his and Ms. Dugard’s daughters, ages 11 and 15.
“They didn’t look right,” said Lisa Campbell, the manager of the campus police special-events unit, noting that the children were pale and withdrawn. Ms. Campbell contacted Allyson Jacobs, a campus patrol officer, who ran a background check on Mr. Garrido and learned of his criminal past, including convictions of rape and kidnapping in Nevada in the mid-1970s.
That lead to the discovery of Garrido’s secret life, and the ramshackle collection of tents and sheds behind his home where Jaycee Dugard had been imprisoned for 19 years. He and his wife were arrested on August 26, 2009.
Garrido, who was known around his neighborhood as “Creepy Phil,” had gotten kookier recently. He claimed that God spoke to him through a box and sometimes started singing religious songs.
On July 21, 2009, Garrido posted the following in his blog, Voices Revealed:
THE U.S. FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS NOT THE SOURCE OF MIND CONTROL
U.C.L.A. conducted a three year study from (2003 to 2006) their conclusion at the end of the 3 year study was that the number of cases where people heard voices increased by fifty percent.
The following reports will provide needed insight. This type of activity is increasing worldwide.
Voices have come about due to the powerful design of the human mind and is intended for a purpose beyond our present understanding. Be assured it is to provide and protect our future development.
These areas are off limits and a danger to anyone believing they can experience this type of freedom. It belongs to God for the direct application of His Word.
After his arrest, Garrido actually gave a telephone interview to KCRA 3, a television station based in Sacramento, California. The interview was described as rambling and incoherent, and Garrido appeared to be justifying the kidnapping:
“What’s kept me busy the last several years is I’ve completely turned my life around,” Garrido told KCRA 3. “And you’re going to find the most powerful story coming from the witness, the victim — you wait. If you take this a step at a time, you’re going to fall over backwards and in the end, you’re going to find the most powerful heart-warming story.”
All over the Internet now, people are referring to Garrido as “psycho.” Andy Ostroy on the Huffington Post wrote, “Psycho kidnapper-rapist Phillip Garrido should be put to death.” Andrew Belonsky on Gawker wrote, “In true psycho fashion, Phillip Garrido had blog, heard God.”
“Psycho” is an ambiguous term, perhaps a shortened version of “psychopath” or “psychopathology.” A psychopath is the type of person we discuss here on Lovefraud, someone with no heart, no conscience and no remorse. Psychopathology can refer to just about any mental illness. Unfortunately, the distinction between these two terms is much too subtle for the general population. Most people just lump everyone together as crazy psychos.
The next day and across the country, in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Bonnie Sweeten pleaded guilty to identity theft and making false reports.
Perhaps you remember Sweeten. She’s the woman who called 911 on May 26, 2009, claiming that she and her daughter had been abducted by two black men and were locked in the trunk of a car. Her call led to an Amber alert and a nationwide search. A few days later, Sweeten and her 9-year-old daughter were located in a luxury hotel at Walt Disney World, in Orlando, Florida.
Why did Sweeten flee to Florida? Well, it turned out that she was in a lot of trouble back home.
According to a long article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, she had been accused by relatives of swindling nearly $300,000 from Victor Biondino, 92, who suffered from dementia. Sweeten was at one time related to the old man by marriage—she was married to his grandson for 10 years.
When confronted by relatives, Sweeten admitted taking Biondino’s money. But she told a story that she and her employer, Debbie Carlitz, an attorney, had been arrested and needed the money for bail. This was not true. Sweeten promised to return the money, then kept delaying, always with an excuse, until she could delay no longer.
When the refund check she wrote bounced, Sweeten was already on her way to Disney World with $12,000 in cash.
Sentenced to prison
Sweeten was arrested and pleaded guilty in the kidnapping hoax. In court for her sentencing last Thursday, Sweeten cried and spoke words of remorse. Bucks County Court Judge Jeffrey Finley didn’t fall for the act.
“I’m not buying it,” he said, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
He called Sweeten “a calculating, manipulative, cold-blooded woman.” Then he sentenced her to nine to 24 months in prison, plus 50 hours of community service and four years of probation. The punishment was actually more stringent than called for by sentencing guidelines.
Sweeten’s deception deserved the stiff penalty, Finley said, because her hoax created widespread fear, stirred racial tensions, taxed law enforcement resources, and inflicted severe humiliation on her own loved ones, especially her three children.
Reading the coverage of both of these stories, I am certain that Bonnie Sweeten would be diagnosed as a psychopath, but I’m not sure about Phillip Garrido.
Garrido obviously has mental issues—his father said he was a friendly, sweet kid until high school, when he started getting into trouble and using LSD. Some psychopaths are fine as children and then develop the disorder as adolescents.
The kidnapping and rape, of course, require the emotional callousness of a psychopath. Garrido was also suspected of bilking an elderly neighbor out of $18,000, in a complaint filed by an elder care home. Garrido said the man gave him the money to start a church, and prosecutors, citing insufficient evidence, declined to file charges.
So the guy certainly exhibits psychopathic behaviors. But he is also delusional, claiming that God talks to him through a box. His behavior, according to people who know him, has been getting more and more erratic.
Psychopaths are not delusional. They know exactly what they are doing; they just don’t care about hurting people. So if Garrido is a psychopath, he has other mental disorders as well.
Feeding the misconception
Unfortunately, though, the Garrido case reinforces society’s misconceptions about psychopaths. This makes it easier for psychopaths like Bonnie Sweeten, a paralegal who gave the impression of a picture-perfect suburban mom, to fly under the radar. Bonnie was handling her family’s finances; her husband, Larry Sweeten, had no idea what was going on.
When her husband first heard that Bonnie Sweeten was arrested in Disney World, he didn’t know what to think.
“I was just trying to find out what was going on, like everybody else,” Larry Sweeten said in an interview. “I just hope that everybody out there doesn’t believe everything that they’re hearing. Everybody who knows her knows she’s a great person, and these rumors can’t be true.”
In July, Larry Sweeten filed for divorce and custody of the couple’s 11-month-old daughter.