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Jaycee Dugard reveals herself to world

October 14, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The first current photo of Jaycee Dugard has surfaced, posted online by People magazine. Dugard is the Northern Californian woman who was reunited with her family after being abducted and held captive for 18 years.At age 11 Jaycee Dugard was abducted on her way to the school bus. Now the 29-year-old is re-emerging optimistic and resilient in the face of great odds, and with a declaration that no missing or exploited child will be forgotten.

It's the world's first glimpse, and even the People's editors were stunned Jaycee Dugard could look this good after 18 years of captivity and abuse.

"She seems much younger in pictures than you would expect, especially living through something that is out of your worst nightmares," said J.D. Heyman, People magazine.

Dugard was kidnapped on her way to school when she was in the 5th grade.

A 1991 picture was the last time she was widely seen. Police investigators created an age-progression animation of what a grown-up Dugard would look like. Compared to today, it's nearly spot on.

"I am so happy to be back with my family," Dugard told People. "Nothing is more important than the unconditional love and support I have from them."

It is believed Phillip Garrido is the father of her two girls. He faces 29 felony counts for kidnapping.

"There has been talk that Jaycee will change the names of her daughters," said Heyman. "They obviously had names that were given to them by the man who is accused of kidnapping her and keeping her prisoner all these years."

The girls who once were never allowed in school now have a private tutor. Dugard, who was held captive, is now free to go horseback riding every day and most importantly, Dugard is with her mother. They all live in privacy in Northern California, reading, catching up and cooking.

"This is a person who really is radiant and incredibly happy and grateful to be where she is in her life right now," said Heyman.

Dugard has reportedly formed a very close bond with her younger sister, Shana, who was just a baby when Jaycee was kidnapped.

A family spokeswoman says Dugard decided to release photos to People magazine as a way to share her joy with the world and show how well she's doing.

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