Parents, Friends Hold Out Hope

Chelsea King's parents share their heartache and hope

By Artie Ojeda and Monica Dean
|  Monday, Mar 8, 2010  |  Updated 8:00 AM PDT
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Students and Parents from Poway H. S. React to Arrest

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Chelsea King's Parents: 'Baby Girl, We Love You'

Her parents say the worst thing their daughter ever did was to run by herself.

Students and Parents from Poway H. S. React to Arrest

Today at Poway H.S. parents and students have mixed emotions at the announcement of the arrest of a suspect in the disappearance of Poway High student Chelsea King.
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Brent and Kelly King know they have to be strong. But there is no hiding the despair and pain of living without their missing daughter.

"I can't begin to describe the depth of sorrow. It's been a nightmare," said Kelly King. "There's no other way to put it. It's your worst nightmare."

"My body hasn't stopped shaking since I came to the realization of what was occurring," said Brent King. "You just feel a complete amount of emptiness and helplessness."

The King's last saw their daughter Wednesday. They say she performed in a school concert that night, and then woke up early Thursday morning to attend a peer counseling meeting at Poway High School at 6:15 a.m.

Chelsea King, 17, apparently went for a run immediately after school on Thursday. She never returned home. Her car was found at the Rancho Bernardo Glassman Community Park. Her cell phone, iPod, and school clothes were found inside the car.

Wearing blue in honor of Chelsea King, students headed back to class at Poway High School on Monday. Blue ribbons and pictures of the missing teenager surround the school on Espola Road. The emotion is visible on students' faces.

"That's what we love about Chelsea is those bright beautiful blue eyes of hers so that's why everyone's wearing the blue,"said Traci Barker-Ball, peer counseling advisor with Poway HS.

"It's been really hard and we've been praying that she's okay and for her family,”said fellow student Bridig McCarthy.

Hundreds of students and staff members from the school have volunteered in the search to help find Chelsea. For parents of some of the students at Poway HS, it hits too close to home.

"It's a nightmare for parents. I only have one daughter I'm blessed with and I'm just blown away by this,"said Kelley Thompson Petit.

"It doesn't happen in Poway,” said Melissa Harison. “Eeverybody's tight nit here everybody watches over everbody. It's scary."

Some say news of the arrest of 30-year-old John Albert Gardner is frightening but also a relief that law enforcement may be one step closer to finding the teen who loved to run.

"There's a little bit of hope because somebody was arrested,” said Barker-Ball. “But then there's also that underlying 'Oh my gosh what if."

Grief counselors have been brought in to help students and teachers -- a campus struggling to cope with what administrators say is one of, if not the biggest crisis they've ever faced.

Her parents say she was not a risk taker and would not wander from the trails. They say she preferred to run alone, which they frowned upon.

"We would never allow her to run by herself. But she's a 17-year old girl," said Brent King. "If she chose to run by herself on that day, she didn't do it because her parents said go ahead and run by yourself."

"When you're that age, you feel invincible," said Kelly King. "Bad things aren't going to happen to you."

The Kings thanked the community for their outpouring of support.

""I would have never thought this was possible in terms and love and support and the dedication and the commitment from this community," said Kelly King. She now wears a pair of earrings that say 'Hope', given to her by a stranger.

The Kings call their daughter their shining light. Brent King recalled a text message he recently sent his daughter.

"I texted her and said 'I am just so proud of you, for the kind of person you are.'  She's what every parent wants. She's that kid. You don't worry about her grades, we worried that she studied too much. 'Please, just relax, go have some fun.' She didn't want to do that because she has goals. She has dreams. She wants to change the world. That's who she is," said Brent King.

Kelly King talked about the special mother daughter bond she shares with Chelsea.

"We got to the point when she got a little bit older, we could wear the same clothes. It became a source of contention for me," said Kelly King with a laugh. "Part of me thought, 'oh goodness, you've got my clothes on.' The other part of me thought, 'that's pretty cool, I can fit into your clothes.'"

Holding out hope Chelsea King could some how hear them, the Kings sent out a heartfelt message to their daughter.

"Baby girl, we love you. You're coming home. Be strong, be as strong as I know you are," said Kelly King. "Sweetie, we love you. We love you with all of our heart and we're waiting. We're here honey. We're gonna find you."

Related Stories:
Suspect Had 'Unnatural Interest in Young Girls:' DA
Suspect Arrested in Case of Missing Teen Chelsea King
Missing Poway Teen's Parents: 'Be Strong Baby'
"Look at Her Picture, Look for Her:" Parents (VIDEO)
Missing Teen May Have Been Abducted: FBI (VIDEO)
Missing Poway Teen's Parents Cling to Hope

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