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Registered Sex Offender Held In Case Of Missing Poway Teen

Suspect is charged on suspicion of murder and rape

A registered sex offender arrested for investigation of murdering a missing 17-year-old San Diego County girl is refusing to cooperate with authorities who renewed their search Monday at the park where she vanished Thursday.

John Albert Gardner

Above: John Albert Gardner

Chelsea King

Above: Chelsea King

John Gardner III, 30, remained in custody without bail after his arrest Sunday for investigation of murder and rape. It was not immediately clear whether he had hired an attorney.

No criminal charges had been filed, but district attorney's spokesman Steve Walker said a decision would be made by Wednesday.

Chelsea King of Poway disappeared after going for a run near Lake Hodges at Rancho Bernardo Community Park in San Diego, a popular regional park full of trails. Her BMW, with her cell phone and iPod inside, were found later that night.

Some 1,500 law enforcement personnel, dogs and volunteers failed to find the teen on Sunday.

Investigators searched a townhouse Monday about a mile from the park where neighbors say Gardner's mother and stepfather lived, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Susan Plese said she could not confirm that report.

Sheriff William Gore, appearing with the girl's parents on ABC's "Good Morning America," said Gardner was arrested after investigators discovered a piece of physical evidence linking him to the case. He did not elaborate.

Gardner, who gave his residence as Lake Elsinore, about 75 miles north of the park, was arrested at a restaurant in Escondido.

His interrogation had not been productive, Gore said.

"We questioned Mr. Gardner into the evening and so far we still don't know where Chelsea is," Gore said. "We're confident that we have the right man in custody. Now we've just got to find Chelsea."

Investigators also suspect Gardner could be tied to a Dec. 27 assault on a female jogger in the same park, Gore said.

He was required to register as a sex offender because of a conviction for lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14, the Megan's Law Web site said.

The search for King, a straight-A senior at Poway High School, also took to the Internet, where a Web site was created at findchelsea.com.

At the high school Monday, students and staff wore blue shirts to represent the color of the teen's eyes and tied blue ribbons around campus light poles.

Principal Scott Fisher thanked students for their search efforts and cautioned them about spreading rumors by cell phone and Internet.

Map

Disappearances of Chelsea King and Amber Dubois


View Disappearances of Chelsea King & Amber Dubois in a larger map

Above: John Albert Gardner III, 30, is charged with rape and murder in connection with the disappearance and death of 17-year-old Chelsea King of Poway. Chelsea's body was found in Lake Hodges on March 2, 2010. Law enforcement officials are also investigating whether Garnder is connected to the disappearance of Amber Dubois. Police announced on March 7, 2010 that skeletal remains found in Pala were those of the missing teen. Amber was 14 when she went missing more than a year ago while walking to Escondido High School.

Comments

Avatar for user 'ontfrankie'

ontfrankie | February 28, 2010 at 9 p.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

Read on CNN the arrest is based on physical evidence, how damning. And the article indicates a relation to the Dec 27th attack. What does this say about how we should deal with convicted sex offenders. Having a daughter the same age I have my own opinions, especially since I live a few miles away.

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Avatar for user 'Sarah'

Sarah | March 1, 2010 at 7:55 p.m. ― 4 years, 5 months ago

This is surely one of the most horrifying tales of this type in sometime. All of our hearts go out to this young woman and her family and worried friends. Just a chime in with ontfrankie, and a suggestion. As we have weeded out some of the wheat from the chaff at Gitmo - we need to take those men
who pose no danger to women and children off of the Megan list. For the sake of timely law enforcement, we need to purge the 16 year old in some state(s) who had sex with the 15 year old. Not that what the boy did was not wrong, and not that whatever punishment the state metes out is unexpected or unjustified. But let's put the John Albert Gardner(s) of this world in that special place we reserve for mad dogs that have bitten once. It stretches credulity that a reason could exist to release this man on an unsuspecting world. When we are releasing perpetrators of non-violent crimes from jails to make comfy room for others of our fellow citizens; let's burden the parole officers and save a special spot for this guy and his ilk. ontfrankie, my son is
is in his early twenties, and it scares parents of children of any age or either sex to know there are people like this in their world.
to know there are people like thi

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