Monday, May 17, 2010
SAN DIEGO After being ordered to spend the rest of his life in prison for the rape-murders of two North County teens, John Albert Gardner III possibly implicated himself in several unsolved assaults but confessing to no other slayings, officials said today.
"He didn't shed a lot of light,'' sheriff's homicide Lt. Dennis Brugos told reporters during a panel discussion headed by many of the county's top law enforcement officials, including Sheriff Bill Gore and District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.
Gardner's statements to sheriff's detectives during the post-sentencing interrogation on Friday suggested that he "may have been involved in other criminal activity,'' Brugos said. Those cases involve assaults in San Diego or Riverside County, and possibly in the San Bernardino area, as well, the lieutenant said.
During the unusual multi-agency news conference at the sheriff's Kearny Mesa headquarters, officials provided in-depth time lines of investigations into the murders of Amber Dubois, a 14-year-old Escondido High freshman who disappeared while walking to school on Feb. 13, 2009, and Chelsea King, 17, who went missing during a jog in Rancho Bernardo on Feb. 25 of this year.
They also disclosed the existence of a special task force charged with determining whether Gardner, 31, who was sent to prison in 2000 for sexually assaulting a neighbor girl, is responsible for any other unsolved kidnap-rapes or homicides.
The investigative team, which consists of 30 personnel from nine area agencies, will continue in its work for an indefinite period, authorities said.
There was little for officials to share after Amber vanished since, for a time, it was unknown whether they were dealing with a case of foul play or a runaway.
At one point, they released to the media grainy surveillance footage of a vehicle that appeared near her campus on the morning she disappeared, but it turned out there was no connection with the Dubois case.
Law enforcement was mostly tight-lipped after Chelsea went missing, often responding with "no comment'' when questioned about specifics during
Much came to light, however, after Gardner pleaded guilty last month to both murders.
Search warrants subsequently unsealed by local judges revealed the discovery of underwear that contained DNA linking Gardner to Chelsea and disclosed that he apparently followed other girls or women in his car as they walked along streets.
District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis refused to comment until Gardner was sentenced, and she asked other agencies to follow suit.
Gardner was sentenced Friday to a pair of consecutive life prison terms plus 49 years, freeing up officials to discuss particulars.
For their part, Chelsea's parents have fought to keep certain details of her killing confidential.