Gardner arrested in Chelsea King's disappearance

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February 28, 2010, 10:55 pm
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(NECN: San Diego, Calif.) - A registered sex offender was arrested Sunday afternoon in the disappearance of a missing suburban San Diego teenager.

San Diego County Sheriff William D. Gore delivered the update on the case Sunday night, though not the one Chelsea King's family was hoping for. 

John Albert Gardner, 30, was arrested at around 4:20 p.m. local time in connection with disappearance of Chelsea King, 17, of Poway.  Gardner is a registered sex offender in the state of California.  His past offenses, as listed on California's Megan Law registered sex offender Web Site, consist of lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14 years of age.

Numerous pieces of physical evidence were gathered in the park where King went missing -- evidence investigators were led to believe are tied to Gardner.

"During the course of this extensive investigation, evidence was discovered that linked Gardner to Miss King in such a manner to warrant his arrest," Sheriff Gore said.  "Specific criminal charges against Gardner are still being determined."

Gardner was taken into custody outside a restaurant in Escondido -- a little over seven miles away from where King went missing -- without incident, according to Sheriff Gore.  He was transported to the Sheriff's Administrative Center in San Diego, where Gardner faced questioning Sunday night.

"I want to emphasize this investigation is not over.  Our primary goal in all of this is to find Chelsea King.  We are continuing those efforts -- there are several searches going on around the county," Sheriff Gore said.

When asked if he believed King was still alive, the sheriff offered an optimistic response.

"We're holding out that hope," the sheriff said, re-emphasizing that the ultimate goal in the investigation is the safe return of King.

King went for a run on Thursday and never returned.  Sheriff Gore said the physical evidence that investigators linked to Gardner was obtained in Rancho Bernardo Community Park, where King vanished.  Her abandoned car was found in the park.

Furthermore, Sheriff Gore said investigators believe Gardner may be tied to a December 27th assault in the same park.

Video courtesy of KGTV.

Tags: missing, Chelsea King, John Albert Gardner
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