The murders of Chelsea King and Amber Dubois have rocked the community over the past few weeks. The raw emotion and anger has been felt and heard all over San Diego County and Friday’s major development was no different.
Word of John Gardner’s guilty plea in both murders spread quickly.
“He did a horrible thing, but I’m glad there’s closure. We’ve been praying. [Pause] I’m going to cry,” Escondido resident Dawn Cheek said as her eyes welled with tears. “It’s been hard. You know she [Amber] is part of our community, so it has been very hard.”
The plea deal means Gardner will not face the death penalty, which is getting mixed reaction from residents.
“They should give him the death penalty as well, because if he goes to prison on a life sentence they will keep him separated from other inmates for his protection. I am not happy with this at all. He should suffer something worse then those two young girls had to go through. He is one sick individual,” Julie Cottam said on Facebook.
“I’m glad he’s going to be put away for good and out of our sight,” Dillon Vilkofsky said. “As long as he’s locked up and not in society anymore, it’s all good with me.”
“So he got an ace. It doesn’t help anybody, but I guess that’s better than nothing,” Cheek said.
The plea deal also means details of the murders will not be revealed in a trial.
“That has been one of my fears that we would have to know that at this school with all the kids knowing it. I’d rather not know, I’d rather them not know,” Poway High School Principal Scott Fisher said.
Poway High School Counselor Traci Barker-Ball agreed
“The reality could have been so much worse and that would really set us back with all the healing,” she said.
While many hope the plea deal will help bring closure, they also recognize the community is going to have to bear the scars.
“It’s part of the school and part of the community that has been taken away, unjustly, so no. You can’t have closure,” said Escondido resident Karl Krochmal.