Search Continues for Former Naperville Teen

King never returned from a jogging trip

Tuesday, Mar 2, 2010  |  Updated 10:45 AM CDT
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Chelsea King's parents share their heartache and hope

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San Diego police are still looking for a missing jogger who once lived in Naperville.

Chelsea King is a straight-A student who plays French horn for the San Diego Youth Symphony, runs on the school cross-country team and actively volunteers in a peer counseling program.

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, Calif. on Sunday. 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.

Gardner, of Lake Elsinore, pleaded guilty in May 2000 to molesting a 13-year-old female neighbor and was sentenced to six years in prison. Prosecutors say he lured the victim to his home with an offer to watch "Patch Adams," a 1998 movie starring Robin Williams.

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.

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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