Canine search team members examine land neighbouring the property owned by registered sex offender and convicted rapist Phillip Garrido in California on Monday. (Kevin Bartram/Reuters)

A small bone fragment was found on a property beside the home of a California man who was charged with kidnapping Jaycee Lee Dugard, and who is now being investigated in connection with the deaths of several prostitutes.

FBI and local law enforcement agencies in the San Francisco Bay area searched the Antioch property of Phillip Garrido, 58, and the one next door looking for evidence related to unsolved crimes in the region.

Garrido and his wife, Nancy, were arrested last week and charged with 29 counts in connection with the kidnapping, rape and imprisonment of Dugard, who was 11 years old when she was abducted from her home in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., in 1991. Both have pleaded not guilty.

The bone fragment was found Sunday in a neighbour's backyard, said Jimmy Lee, Contra Costa County Sheriff's Department spokesman. He said it is not known if it's from an animal or human, and testing will take several weeks.


This photo of Phillip Garrido was taken last Thursday and provided by the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office. (Associated Press) ((Associated Press))

Garrido once lived on the neighbour's property in a shed. Neighbours said he also worked as the property's caretaker and helped an elderly man who lived there several years ago.

Cadaver-sniffing dogs were on the properties to help uncover possible evidence.

Authorities have provided few details about what they are looking for on the properties. Garrido's land includes the backyard compound of tents and sheds where he and his wife allegedly hid Dugard and her two daughters.

In the nearby city of Pittsburg, police have said they are investigating whether Garrido was involved in the murders of prostitutes in the 1990s.

Dugard was held for almost 18 years in her suspected abductor's suburban backyard compound about 320 kilometres away from her hometown, police said.

They said Dugard was raped by Garrido, who is the father of her two children, now 11 and 15. Her daughters were also kept hidden in the two sheds and tents receiving electricity from a single extension cord.

Long search over


This family photo provided by Carl Probyn shows his stepdaughter, Jaycee Lee Dugard, who went missing in 1991. (Associated Press) ((Associated Press))

Dugard was found after Garrido was spotted last Tuesday with two children as he tried to enter the University of California's Berkeley campus to hand out religious literature.

Officers said he was acting suspiciously toward the children. They questioned him and did a background check that disclosed he was a parolee and informed his parole officer.

Garrido is a registered sex offender on federal parole for rape and kidnapping convictions.

Garrido was ordered to appear for a parole meeting and arrived last Wednesday with Dugard along with his wife and the two girls. Corrections officials said Garrido admitted kidnapping Dugard.

An FBI agent who worked on Dugard's kidnapping case from the beginning said the Garridos were never on the bureau's radar during the 18-year investigation.

Special Agent Chris Campion said he called Dugard's mother every year on her daughter's birthday. He was the one who called to give her the news that she was alive and was present when they were reunited last week.

With files from The Associated Press