Investigators were searching the shallow grave where the body of San Diego high school student Chelsea King was found Tuesday, trying to gather every bit of evidence that will help put away the sex offender they say killed her.
Body found in shallow grave in San Diego is the missing teen’s.
King’s devastated parents attended a vigil Tuesday night in their daughter’s honor to thank the tight-knit community that has spent nearly a week trying to bring her home.
King’s body was found about 10 feet from the shore of Lake Hodges, a half mile from where she parked her car to go jogging in the park last week.
The discovery, San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said, “was made by one of the searchers. Looking from the water up the shoreline [the searcher] spotted something that looked suspicious, and investigated and … by moving some small debris … found Chelsea’s body.”
Her body was found six days after King went missing Feb. 25 and two days after police arrested John Albert Gardner III, a convicted sex offender whose DNA they said was found on King’s clothing near where police believe she was abducted.
Gardner, 30, is being held on suspicion of rape and first-degree murder and is scheduled to be charged today in a San Diego court. Prosecutors may include special allegations that would make Gardner eligible for the death penalty.
Former FBI agent and ABC News consultant Brad Garrett said the location of the body likely means King was attacked shortly after she started her jog.
“”This was probably a blitz attack. where he sees her jogging and attacks her,” he said, adding that it’s not uncommon for murderers to leave their victims near the site of the crime.
Police said Gardner, who was arrested in 2000 for committing lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14, may also be connected to the disappearance of Amber DuBois, a 14-year-old who disappeared near San Diego on her way to school in February 2009.
DuBois’ grandmother, Sheila Welch, is demanding a crackdown on known sex offenders.
“It makes me want to throw up. How many times are we going to continue to let this happen?” she asked. “Whose child is it going to be next?”
Garrett said that although police have said Gardner is not cooperating with investigators, authorities from the region should be pulling “every assault case, every missing child that fits Mr. Gardner’s MO.”
“What’s going to drive him is, ‘What’s in this for me?’” Garrett said. “At some point the death penalty might be placed off the table if he can tell them about other situations.”
Authorities Monday also linked Gardner to an attack on 23-year-old Candice Moncayo, who identified Gardner from a mug shot as the man who attacked her weeks before along the same running path where King disappeared.
Moncayo was able to fend off her attacker by elbowing him in the face and running away.
“Candice was reached by police to see if the man matched up with the man who attacked Chelsea King,” Moncayo’s sister, Kayla Moncayo, told ABC News today. “She looked at the pictures and told police, ‘He’s the same guy.’”
Moncayo’s sister said she hoped the information police learned could help them convict Gardner.
“When we heard about Chelsea King, immediately my family was concerned that it was the same man,” said Kayla Moncayo. “We pray that Candice can provide helpful information and Chelsea will be found.”
Kayla Moncayo, the opinion editor for the Silver Spur, the Rancho Bernardo High School newspaper, wrote about her sister’s attack shortly after it took place. The story ran last Friday, one day after King disappeared.
Candice Moncayo was running on the trail when she “was tackled and thrown to the side of the running trail, caught off guard and without warning,” her sister wrote.
“I thought he was going to rape me,” Moncayo said of the overweight man who tackled her. “So I told him he would have to kill me first.”
“He picked her up by the shoulders and began shaking her relentlessly,” she wrote.
Moncayo fought her attacker, elbowing hard him in the nose. The shot made her assailant pause, allowing her to get out of his grasp and run away.
“All that was left of the … attacker were the bruises he left on her and the DNA the police were able to swab from her elbow,” according to the article.
“She is shaken up, but she’s a strong girl,” Kayla told ABC News today. “She has the joy of the lord on her.”