Lindy McDowell: Why did no one ever notice horror on their doorstep?
Jaycee Lee Dugard from California was abducted at the age of 11 by a sadistic paedophile who raped her and held her captive. She bore two of his children — the first born when she was only 14.
The story has echoes of the case of Elizabeth Fritzl imprisoned in a cellar by her own father. And of Austrian Natashcha Kampusch also abducted and held in a cell by a madman.
Jaycee was kept in a wired off compound hidden from public view.
But just how do these men get away with such barbarity for so long without being rumbled by someone?
The fact that nobody seems to ask obvious questions may have a lot to do with it.
An eyewitness recalls seeing Jaycee’s abductor with a girl who he claimed was his daughter.
Describing the child who was clinging to her abuser, the eyewitness reports “It wasn't normal behaviour. She had a blank stare on her face.”
In retrospect the eyewitness felt this might have amounted to “a cry for help.”
She didn’t do anything at the time, however. She didn’t want to interfere ...
How many times, in how many similar circumstances have we heard that bleak line?
And how many more children are there out there being held captive under the noses of unquestioning neighbours who’d prefer to turn a blind eye to ‘weird’ behaviour rather than risk appearing nosy and intrusive?