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Arraignment Today For Chelsea King Murder Suspect

Audio

Aired 3/3/10

John Albert Gardner III will be arraigned this afternoon in San Diego Superior Court on suspicion of murder and rape of missing Poway teenager Chelsea King.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH (Host): I'm Maureen Cavanaugh, and you're listening to These Days on KPBS. Arraignment is scheduled this afternoon for John Albert Gardner III. Authorities say he’ll be charged with rape and murder in connection with the disappearance of Poway teenager Chelsea King. The search for Chelsea ended yesterday when authorities found a body near Lake Hodges. After that discovery, there was an outpouring of emotion in Poway. Thousands of community members gathered at St Michael's Church last night for a candlelight vigil to remember Chelsea. Her father Brent King spoke to the grieving crowd.

BRENT KING (Father) (from audio clip): One of the nicknames that I always called my daughter is my angel. She’s my angel forever.

CAVANAUGH: Joining me now is KPBS reporter Tom Fudge with the latest on this story. And good morning, Tom.

TOM FUDGE (Reporter, KPBS): Morning, Maureen.

CAVANAUGH: Tom, what do we know about the identity of the body found near Lake Hodges yesterday?

FUDGE: Well, yesterday Sheriff William Gore said that there was a strong likelihood that the body was that of Chelsea King, the body that they found near the south end of Lake Hodges at about one o’clock yesterday. But in attending that press conference and hearing him talk, there was absolutely no question in my mind that he was quite certain that this was Chelsea King. I don’t think there really was any doubt in his mind about that. The body was found near a tributary to Lake Hodges in a shallow grave. It apparently was spotted by a diver who was in the water. This was an area that had been intensely searched before, over the past four or five days, but since it was in a shallow grave it was missed but it was spotted yesterday.

CAVANAUGH: And remind us, when is it that Chelsea King went missing?

FUDGE: Chelsea King went missing on Thursday and the last time she was seen was at school at approximately two o’clock. It’s our belief that she intended to go jogging. Running was one of her hobbies. And we think that she drove a car to a parking lot in – near Lake Hodges and then went for a jog and that was when she disappeared. Soon after her disappearance, that car was found but, of course, she was not in it. And it’s taken this long and an intensive search to locate what we believe to be her body.

CAVANAUGH: Now registered sex offender John Albert Gardner III was arrested on Sunday. As I said, he’s going to be arraigned this afternoon. Why is he a suspect, Tom?

FUDGE: Well, the short answer, Maureen, is we don’t know. There is an awful lot that authorities are not telling us about this case. There were many questions that were put to Sheriff Gore yesterday that he refused to answer. One of the questions was whether the suspect in any way tipped them off as to where the body was. He wouldn’t answer that question. What we do know about John Albert Gardner is what you’ve already said. He is a registered sex offender. He was convicted of a sexual offense about 10 years ago and since then he is suspected of having committed other crimes. Today’s arraignment, hopefully, will be a time when we find out a little bit more about what they have on this man. He has been charged with murder and with rape but we don’t know much about what hard facts the police really have on him.

CAVANAUGH: Well, Tom, thank you so much.

FUDGE: You’re welcome.

CAVANAUGH: That’s KPBS reporter Tom Fudge. We will have more on this story as it develops through the day here on KPBS.

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