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Kidnapping Suspect Being Investigated for Prostitute Murders

California authorities probing the case of a registered sex offender accused of kidnapping an 11-year-old and forcing her to live in a tent in his backyard for 18 years are now searching for possible links to the unsolved murders of several prostitutes.

Phillip Garrido was arrested in Contra Costa County on Wednesday, accused of kidnapping Jaycee Lee Dugard, now 29 years old, and fathering her two children.

Now, police from the neighboring township of Pittsburg are investigating whether the 58-year-old Garrido, a convicted sex offender, was involved in the murders of several prostitutes whose bodies were found near where he worked in the 1990s.

Garrido and his 54-year-old wife, Nancy, have been charged with kidnapping and pleaded not guilty in court on Friday afternoon.

Dugard was reunited with her family on Friday.

Jaycee Lee Dugard was snatched from a bus stop near her parents home when she was 11-years-old. Her stepfather saw the abduction take place and got on a bike to chase her kidnappers, but was unable to keep up.

Reunited with her mother and sister, she was said to be doing well.

A spokesman for the sheriff's department that arrested Garrido on Friday expressed regret that the suspect was not arrested earlier. He said officers have been by the property where Dugard was held captive twice in the past three years, including once to investigate the tents where Dugard and the children lived. But they never went inside the structure.

Garrido's father says that his son has always suffered from psychiatric problems and in his youth began taking illegal drugs which worsened the problem.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.