Suspect Not the Focus, Chelsea Is: Parents

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Mark Leimbach

    Brent and Kelly King sat holding hands and answered question after question about their daughter Chelsea and they wouldn’t have it any other way right now.

    The couple, whose 17-year old daughter is the subject of an extensive search effort near Lake Hodges, where searchers found a body on Tuesday afternoon.  Prior to that discovery, the couple talked Tuesday about the Poway High School student but didn’t spend much time on the registered sex offender who was arrested on suspicion of murder and rape in the case.

    They hde nothing to say to John Albert Gardner III right now. That will come,  they say.

    Gardner's arrest Sunday gave the couple hope.

    “I’m not going to think about who he is, what he is, it just brought us another step closer to finding [Chelsea],” Kelly said.

    What would they like to say to him? What would they like to do to him? Some parents may have an ideam but the Kings said they're not wasting their time and energy on the man in custody.

    “There’s an incredible amount of rage that boils but right now we’re just focused on Chelsea,” said Chelsea's father Brent.

    “There’s a place for that and a time for that and that’ll come but we don’t have any space in our hearts or our heads for that,” Kelly said.

    They haven’t decided if they will attend Gardiner's scheduled arraignment Wednesday. For them, it's irrelevant.

    “Nothing changes for us whether we go there, whether we see him,” Kelly said.

    “I don’t care where he’s at as long as he’s not out there,” Brent said.

    Wearing an orange shirt, Kelly talked about the daughter that she said is "sunshine inside and out." The T-shirt and the correlating  "Orange Day" is "so Chelsea" according to the Kings. On Monday, Chelsea’s friends wore blue in honor of their missing friend and on Tuesday, they decided to wear orange which is another of Chelsea’s favorite colors.

    “Such a perfect way to have a little insight into who she is and who the kids are that she hangs out with and that she goes to school with,” said Kelly.

    Chelsea King was last seen Thursday, Feb. 25 before heading out to run after school. Her car was found at the Rancho Bernardo Glassman Community Park. Her cell phone, iPod and school clothes were found inside the car.

    On Monday, law enforcement sources say an article of King's clothing was found on the southern edge of the lake. DNA on the clothing led to Gardner's arrest, according to investigators.

    Dozens of law enforcement officers from multiple agencies worked in teams performing line searches at the lake, going through reeds, snakes and vegetation along a 14-mile stretch of shoreline.

    Gardner has allegedly been linked to an attack on a jogger in December. The woman in that case got away and identified Gardner in a photo lineup, according to investigators.

    According to San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore, investigators are looking into the possibility that Gardner may have a connection to the Feb. 2009 disappearance of Escondido High School student Amber Dubois.

    The Kings have gotten a lot of support from Amber's parents over the last five days.

    “The strength that they display is driving us," said Brent. "When Moe looks me in the eyes and says ‘Don’t worry we’re going to find her,’ that’s strength.“

    The couple, who envisioned a big family hug with Chelsea and their son, sent a message to the teenager they call their "light."

    “Sweetheart, we’re coming. Stay strong," Kelly said. “Sweetie, this is a test and we’re stronger than this.”

    “Don’t worry, I know you and nobody can break you,” Brent said.

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