Chelsea King was 17. She had strawberry blonde hair, sparkling blue eyes and a smile that went from here to tomorrow. She was a senior at Poway High School near San Diego who disappeared when went for a jog last Thursday afternoon.
Thousands helped search for her.
She’s dead now. What is most likely her body was found in a shallow grave near a tributary of Lake Hodges, about half a mile from her locked car and cell phone.
Her life ended in fright and violence. Her family and friends are devastated.
John Albert Gardner III, 30, a registered sex offender, has been charged with murder during a rape or attempted rape in Chelsea’s slaying. He pleaded not guilty in court Wednesday.
The San Diego Union Tribune says that Gardner was identified from semen that was found on a piece of Chelsea’s clothing. Authorities ran it through a national DNA database Sunday, and arrested Gardner later that day. Two days later, Chelsea was found.
In 2000, Gardner pleaded guilty to sexual molestation charges involving a 13-year-old neighbor. He served five years of a six-year sentence, wore a global positioning system tracking device until his parole ended in 2008, and registered his address and his grandmother’s address as residences.
Dr. Matthew Carroll was the court-apppointed psychiatrist in that case. He said that Gardner denied the evidence and showed no remorse. Carroll warned the court Gardner would be a "continued danger to underage girls" and urged the maximum sentence of 30 years. From People magazine:
"He's frustrated and angry they didn't listen to what he said," says Dr. Mark Kalish, a psychiatrist who shares offices with Carroll and spoke on his behalf. "He said: 'Give him the maximum sentence,' and psychiatrists generally don't do that."
Kalish says the prosecutors agreed to the plea deal to avoid the time and trouble of a trial and to spare the victim the trauma of testifying.
Gardner is also being investigated in connection with two other recent incidents, a Dec. 27 attack on a 22-year-old female jogger in the same park, and the Feb. 13, 2009 disappearance of a 14-year-old girl while she was walking to school in the area.