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Poway Girl's Disappearance Keeps Public Safety On People's Minds

Poway Girl's Disappearance Keeps Public Safety On People's Minds
The disappearance of 17-year-old Chelsea King last week in the community of Poway has some people asking "is anyone safe anywhere?" There are no easy answers according to one public safety expert.

Heidi Broder lives in Poway. Last year, her 19-year-old daughter graduated from Poway High School. That's the same school Chelsea King attended until she vanished during a solo run last Thursday. Broder says King's disappearance has shaken the middle-class, tight-knit community.

"Very unusual," she said "I mean, that's why I think this is hitting so close to home because this kind of thing doesn't happen here."

King disappeared in Rancho Bernardo Community Park near Lake Hodges. Assistant San Diego Police Chief Boyd Long says thousands of people go running or walk their dogs there each year without incident. Long says Chelsea can't be blamed for going there alone.


"I don't know that she could have done anything differently," Long said. "She has a right to be able to go any place she wants and she should feel safe in doing that. Unfortunately, that day Chelsea and this suspect somehow collided. This person who we believe is responsible at this point is a predator, is someone who probably would have done something like this even if he had been in another area."

John Gardner III is in police custody. He's a registered sex offender. Police believe he may be linked to the case. He is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow.

KPBS has created a public safety coverage policy to guide decisions on what stories we prioritize, as well as whose narratives we need to include to tell complete stories that best serve our audiences. This policy was shaped through months of training with the Poynter Institute and feedback from the community. You can read the full policy here.