Missing San Diego Teen Puts Focus on Sex Offender
The disappearance of 17-year-old Chelsea King has investigators focusing on a convicted sex offender who lived near a school. Questions are also being raised about a possible connection to another missing teen from one year ago. INSIDE EDITION has the
She is a straight-A student, a talented musician, and a long distance runner. Now the investigation into the disappearance of 17-year-old Chelsea King is focusing on one man. He's convicted sex predator 30-year-old John Albert Gardner.
"We've gathered numerous pieces of physical evidence and some of that evidence led us to identify Mr. Gardner," said San Diego Sheriff William Gore.
Gardner is being questioned about Chelsea's disappearance, and about the disappearance of another teenager, 15-year-old Amber Dubois, almost exactly a year ago.
The distraught fathers of the two missing girls came to face-to-face as Amber's dad joined the search for Chelsea.
Amber's father, Maurice Dubois, said, "It's an awful club of families to be in. It's not something anyone wants to go through, but once you've gone through it you basically know your role. You want to be there to help the next family. Get them through some of the hurdles that slowed you down."
John Gardner was convicted of a sex act with a 13-year-old eighth grade girl in 2000 and sentenced to six years in prison. He was living in San Diego, just 1,100 feet from an elementary school, a violation of California's restrictions on sex predators.
"The urges are always going to be there. It's a sickness, and unfortunately, our system puts these people back on the streets," said Dubois.
It was an emotional moment as Chelsea's parents appeared on The Early Show and talked about the possibility Chelsea may have been murdered.
"Ultimately, regardless of that, the focus is still on bringing Chelsea home," said Mrs. King.
Anchor Harry Smith appeared visibly moved by the courage of Chelsea's parents. "We are so sorry. We are so so sorry," said Smith.
The search for Chelsea continues, using high-tech equipment like a pilotless Predator drone similar to those used by the C.I.A. in the war in Afghanistan. Other volunteers are going low-tech, using horses to comb every inch of this San Diego-area park where Chelsea planned to go running on February 25th.
Chelsea's car has been found with her cell phone and iPod inside, but still no trace of the pretty strawberry blond teen.
Police say they suspect Gardner in an attack last December when another jogger was assaulted. She escaped after she elbowed her assailant.
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