Monster or Killer With a Conscience? | NBC 7 San Diego

Monster or Killer With a Conscience?

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    John Gardner

    Was it compassion or self-interest that caused John Gardner to admit he killed Amber Dubois?
    A letter Gardner wrote to a former girlfriend may provide answers to that question.

    On March 3, the day Gardner was charged only with the murder of Poway teen Chelsea King and assaulting Candice Moncayo, police and prosecutors did not have enough evidence linking him to Amber's disappearance. But after that hearing, Amber's father, Maurice "Moe" Dubois said it seemed likely Gardner also killed Amber.

    "Everyone in our family knows that, yeah, it's such a huge possibility that the likelihood is high, a much larger percentage than we'd ever want it to be," Dubois said at the time.

    Dubois now says the district attorney told him last week that after hearing those comments, Gardner confessed to Amber's murder and led detectives to her shallow grave, near the Pala casino.

    James Reavis, who is an expert in sexual violence and deviant behavior, said Gardner might have felt remorse -- and guilt -- and wanted to help Amber's family after hearing Moe Dubois speak.

    "It's not impossible for an offender who kills a victim to feel that," Reavis said.

    Reavis thinks Gardner had other motives, though.

    "I would guess that he's more interested in saving his life than he is in providing peace to the family," Reavis said.

    Reavis said that a letter Gardner wrote to a former girlfriend, Jariah Baker, reveals Gardner's inner-self.

    "It's self-pitying, you see: 'I'm a terrible friend to all I'm around. I try to talk to people and it doesn't help. I can only relate to crazy people,' " Reavis said, reading from
    Gardner's letter. "And there's nothing genuine here about remorse or empathy."

    Reavis said Gardner's motive for confessing could also mixed: a last ditch effort to avoid the death penalty and some true feelings of guilt.

    "He certainly wasn't touched, however, in the midst of his crimes, by the victim's pleas before he killed them," Reavis said. "That did not penetrate him. He was caught up in the frenzy of his desire."

    Gardner is due back in court on Thursday for a ruling on a gag order imposed on law enforcement by San Diego County Superior Court Judge David Danielson.