The Search for Chelsea King - NBC 7 San Diego

The Search for Chelsea King

The focus of the official search is a 14-mile stretch of Lake Hodges



    As law enforcement focused on a 14-mile stretch of the Lake Hodges shore and searched through the night, hundreds of volunteers are organizing for yet another day of searching for missing Poway teenager Chelsea King.

    The 17-year-old's family and authorities are holding out hope that she will return safely. She disappeared Thursday, and a search for her has spread over an area of about four square miles, covered with rocks and heavy vegetation. The focus of the search has been on the waters and shore of Lake Hodges, a popular area for trail runners.

    More than 100 officers from multiple agencies are involved in the official search for Chelsea. An FBI dive team was brought in Monday equipped with sonar equipment to aid in the search.

    John Gardner III, 30, remained in custody without bail after his arrest outside a Mexican restaurant in suburban Escondido on Sunday.

    Volunteers wanting to help in the search for Chelsea King Tuesday should go to 11858 Bernardo Plaza Ct. in Rancho Bernardo behind Citibank. As of 10 a.m., hundreds of people arrived to volunteer and the line snaked around the building.

    More than 1,000 people showed up to help search each day over the weekend and on Monday, volunteers numbered more than 900. The FBI and police are searching a core area and preparing grid maps for the volunteers to focus on. Organizers like Doug Lambell then assign volunteers to areas of the grid map.

    "What we do then is give them a big briefing, we tell them what we can expect on the search, break them into groups of 15 or 20," said Lambell. "We're getting qualified team leaders, those with prior military or police experience come help us be team leaders."

    Suspect Had "Unnatural Interest in Young Girls:" DA

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    Divers searched the shore of Lake Hodges on Monday near the location where searchers found a piece of clothing belonging to missing Poway teenager Chelsea King, according to investigators.
    (Published Monday, March 8, 2010)

    "I have two young daughters and no good reason not to be here so if the situation were reversed I'd wonder why everybody wasn't here," said John Lingham.

    Volunteer search coordinators say they will keep the momentum going as long as they can -- or until Chelsea is found.

    Sources say they found Gardner’s DNA on some of Chelsea King's clothing found on the shores of the lake. Gardner was in the criminal database because of a 2000 conviction of lewd act with a child.

    Community Not Giving Up Hope for Chelsea King

    [DGO] Community Not Giving Up Hope for Chelsea King
    Hundreds of students and staff members from the school have volunteered in the search to help find Chelsea.
    (Published Tuesday, March 2, 2010)

    Gardner had been living at his mother's Rancho Bernardo home about a mile from the search area. Agents have taken property from the home where a hand-written sign was posted Monday: "We have no statement, please stay off of our property."

    Gardner also had a home in Lake Elsinore. Neighbors say agents kicked down the door looking for Gardner Sunday. He wasn't there.

    According to court records from his 2000 conviction, Gardner picked up a 13 year-old girl at a bus stop, took her back to his Rancho Bernardo home, where he assaulted and beat her. His five-year prison term ended in 2005, after which he served three years parole.

    Parents, Friends Hold Out Hope

    [DGO] Parents, Friends Hold Out Hope
    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.
    (Published Tuesday, March 2, 2010)

    Gardner has been linked to another attack involving a female jogger near Lake Hodges on Dec. 27, 2009, investigators said.

    Gardner is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow. Steve Walker, a spokesman for the San Diego County district attorney's office, said a decision would be made by Wednesday about filing charges against the registered sex offender.


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    Key locations in the Chelsea King case:

    The Chelsea King case in a larger map