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Gardner Begins Serving Life Sentence

— The man who admitted raping and murdering North County teenagers Amber Dubois and Chelsea King began serving his lifelong prison term today.

John Albert Gardner III, 31, was transferred this morning from county jail in San Diego to North Kern State Prison in Delano, leaving about 2 a.m. and arriving shortly before 6 a.m., said Terry Thornton of the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

At the penitentiary about 180 miles north of Los Angeles, he will undergo a 45-day "reception center" evaluation to determine which of the state's 33 prisons is best suited to permanently house him, according to Thornton. Among other factors, the review will take into account Gardner's psychological makeup, physical health and education status.

During the process, Gardner will be confined in a maximum-security cell by himself.

The former Lake Elsinore resident pleaded guilty last month to the sex-assault slayings of 14-year-old Amber on Feb. 13, 2009, and 17-year-old Chelsea on Feb. 25 of this year.

He was sentenced Friday to consecutive life prison terms without the possibility of parole, plus 49 years.

A special task force is charged with determining whether Gardner -- who was sent to prison in 2000 and served about six years for sexually assaulting a neighbor girl -- is responsible for any other unsolved kidnappings, rapes or homicides.

Riverside County authorities are investigating him in connection with the attempted abduction of a girl in Lake Elsinore last October.


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