In their first interview after the discovery of a body in the search for their missing 17-year old daughter Chelsea, Brent and Kelly King described Tuesday as the worst day of their lives.
When deputies told them they had found Chelsea’s body in a shallow grave along the shore of Lake Hodges, the Kings say the news brought them some closure.
They had every emotion running through their bodies, according to Brent. "Not only through the arraignment process but planning services you never could conceive of," he said.
The couple sat down to talk about Chelsea one week after she was last seen alive, just before heading out to run after school. Chelsea's car was found at the Rancho Bernardo Glassman Community Park. Her cell phone, iPod and school clothes were found inside.
DNA on a piece of King’s clothing found along the southern shore of the lake led to the arrest of John Albert Gardner III. Search crews looking in the area near where that article of clothing was found, discovered a body Tuesday in a shallow grave in a tributary about 10 feet from the edge of the water. The county medical examiner is working to officially identify the body.
Kelly King attended the Gardner's arraignment Wednesday. His attorney for the hearing, Michael Popkins, entered not guilty pleas to the charges, saying that his client denied all the allegations. During the date-setting portion of the hearing, Gardner spoke only a single word, "yes," otherwise allowing his attorney to speak for him. The suspect spent the hearing in shackles, mostly looking downward.
Kelly described seeing Gardner in court and said she only “wished he would’ve looked at me so he could’ve seen my eyes,” she said.
Brent and Kelly have nothing to say to Gardner and, as they’ve said before, they don’t want to waste anytime thinking about him.
"It’s past anger," said Brent.
"It’s revulsion, it’s disgust, it’s anger," Kelly added.
As for the penalty Gardner should face if convicted, Brent said he doesn’t have any objections to the most severe punishment available.
“Personally, I’m quite ok with the death penalty," he said, "but I don’t think it’s enough and that’s why God will take care of it.”
Kelly believes her daughter's death is a breaking point for some people who are ready to see an end to children being victimized.
"How many times can this happen? How many times does a child have to go through this? It just keeps happening and happening and you can only take… you can only take so much before enough is enough," she said.
A group of Chelsea’s close friends stopped by last night and visited them, talking not only about Chelsea and their memories but also about their plans for college. When the college acceptance letters start arriving for Chelsea, her parents believe they will be another tribute to their daughter and her academic achievement.
They wanted to thank everyone for helping bring their daughter home to them, for holding a candlelight vigil that they feel so perfectly embodied the spirit of their daughter and for sending them thoughts and prayers.
“If we could go out there and hug each and every single person that has prayed… that has been there for us in whatever scope, I would do it… I would do it and I’m sorry I can’t,” said Kelly.
Chelsea's memorial is scheduled for March 13 at 2 p.m. at Poway High school.
The family has received so many requests of people wanting to donate that they have established the Chelsea 's Light Fund. Donations to the Chelsea 's Light Fund will be accepted at every Wells Fargo Bank across the United States (account #1838355913).
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