Gardner May Have Played a Role in Other Cases

After he was sentenced Friday, John Gardner sat down with sheriff's investigators and discussed other assault cases.

Those cases involve assaults in San Diego or Riverside County, and possibly in the San Bernardino area as well, according to Lt. Dennis Brugos with the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.

Gardner did not, however, implicate himself in any other murders, Brugos said.

The potential of other cases involving the man who killed and raped both Chelsea King and Amber Dubois came to light in an unusual multi-agency news conference Monday.

“We will continue to talk to him as long as we can,” said Brugos.

Throughout the two hour news conference, investigators cast doubt on the location of Amber Dubois' abduction and confirmed key aspects of both cases, including the location of several articles of evidence and why the plea agreement was accepted by the district attorney's office.

Reporters questioned Escondido police about where Amber Dubois was last seen. Capt. Bob Benton said they had two witnesses who knew Amber who were able to place her in front of the high school. Earlier Monday, Amber's mother told a national television show that Gardner told her he met Amber a block away from where police placed her that morning.

Deputy district attorney Kristen Spieler said she'd question anything Gardner said.

“Gardner has made many allegations. On that note, I would just suggest you consider the source,” Spieler said. “He is a convicted murderer and rapist. He’s been described as a sociopath. People like that don’t tend to tell the truth about a lot of things. They tend to say what’s in their best interest.”

Brugos started Monday's discussion recalling the events of Feb. 26, the day after Chelsea King disappeared at Rancho Bernardo Community Park and an extensive search was launched with members of the sheriff's department, the San Diego Police Department and search-and-rescue teams.

A resident located a pair of underwear and a sock, officials said, and turned them over to investigators. One of those articles had a small amount of blood on it. The articles of clothing, which later turned out to belong to Chelsea, were brought to the lab on Friday night. Law enforcement was able to create  DNA profile by Sunday morning, and investigators were notified that DNA found on Chelsea’s clothing matched that of convicted sex offender John Gardner.

After his arrest on Feb. 28, Gardner brought up Amber Dubois during an interview, saying something like, “I suppose you’re going to blame me for the girl in Escondido as well,” according to Brugos. However, Gardner refused to admit any role in the disappearance of Chelsea or Amber at that time.

On March 2, FBI agents who noticed disturbed ground near Lake Hodges discovered a shallow grave. Shortly thereafter, Sheriff Bill Gore notified the King family. Chelsea's remains were later transported to the medical examiner’s office for an exam, which continued into Wednesday, March 3. On that day, Chelsea was positively identified through fingerprints, Brugos said.

An aerial map of the area south of Lake Hodges was used during the news conference to show where articles of Chelsea’s clothing were found. Investigators suggested that Gardner carried the clothing away from the murder scene and dumped some of it in a storm drain.

On March 5, homicide investigators learned that Gardner, accompanied by his attorney, would lead them to Amber's body. Gardner directed investigators to an isolated, rural location, then pointed out a specific site which he said was where he had buried Amber. Early the next morning, Amber’s remains were discovered and transported to the medical examiner’s office. She was positively identified by dental records the next day.

When investigators further searched the area where Amber's remains were discovered on Monday, March 8, evidence was recovered. Brugos described the search as "successful" but would not go into details about what was recovered.

Contrary to what Gardner said in a phone interview with a local television station, the search of Kit Carson Park on March 5 was not a ruse.

Brugos said that deputies were driving Gardner to Pala to find the area where Amber’s body was buried at the same time that Escondido police were acting on a tip that a body was spotted in a bag in the pond at the park. A body was never recovered in the search.

“We had nothing to do with Kit Carson Park,” Brugos said Monday.

“We’d never put the search and rescue folks in that kind of danger or that kind of hazard for a ruse,” Benton of the Escondido police said.

When asked for details that may help other women avoid an attack, the sheriff's department investigator said he felt Chelsea King did nothing unusual that would have put her at risk.

“In Chelsea’s case, she was doing everything right,” said Brugos. “If I would suggest anything, probably, if she had not been alone, perhaps she would not have been attacked.”

It was in broad daylight and there were people around, Brugos said. He refused to go into specific details about how Gardner “took her down,” he said.

The San Diego County Sheriff's Department has received 600 tips from all over the country that they have assigned to a team of investigators, Brugos said. They are still working to follow up on all the tips.

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis refused to comment on the cases against Gardner until he was sentenced and she asked other agencies to do the same.

The official response to many of the questions asked after Chelsea's disappearance was "no comment" -- and authorities were extremely quiet about the details that led them to the discovery of Amber's body in Pala, as well as the circumstances surrounding Amber's death.

Once Gardner was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murders and for the attempted rape of Candice Moncayo, Dumanis announced that investigators would address any outstanding questions.

The panel gathered at the San Diego County Sheriff's Department headquarters on Ridgehaven Court. Dozens of officers sat in the back of the room behind a row of television cameras and two rows of seated press and guests.

Amber's father, Maurice Dubois, and his girlfriend, Rebecca Smith, attended and left without commenting on what was discussed.

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