The discovery of the remains of a second San Diego area teenager has raised more questions about a sex offender already in custody for the death of 17-year-old Chelsea King, but police aren't confirming the two cases are connected.
The skeletal remains of 14-year-old Amber DuBois were found in Pala, an Indian reservation north of San Diego, more than a year after she vanished on her way to school. Her remains were identified by the coroner through dental records, authorities said.
DuBois' remains were found less than a week after King's body was found in a shallow grave in a park where she was last seen jogging.
Registered sex offender John Albert Gardner III, 30, was arrested on rape and murder charges in the King case. He has pleaded not guilty. He is also charged with attempting to rape another woman in December. He could face the death penalty if convicted of the King murder.
Escondido Police Chief Jim Maher would not comment Sunday on whether the discovery of DuBois's body was linked to Gardner.
"This is an ongoing murder investigation and any details, no matter how slight, would be inappropriate to reveal at this point in time," he said.
While authorities have said they believe Gardner may be linked to the DuBois case, but have not said where the tip that led them to her body came from.
A private investigator hired by DuBois' father, Maurice DuBois, told the San Diego Union-Tribune that the tip leading to the teen's body did not come from Gardner, but rather someone else who had been previously afraid to come forward.
"I would just like to thank everybody involved in the search for Amber," Maurice DuBois said, visibly distraught. "And above all, our huge volunteer corps, the most dedicated people you could ever imagine and without them we couldn't have done anything."
Gardner was living with his mother less than two miles from DuBois' home when she disappeared in February 2009. The area where her body found was described by police as remote and rugged.
The discovery of the girls' bodies has taken an incalcuable toll on the community. Outrage has continued to mount that Gardner and other sex offenders like him are allowed to roam the streets. And parents say they are afraid to let their children play in parks.
The day DuBois disappeared, she was excited about buying a baby lamb for her school's Future Farmers of America project.
She spoke to a friend on the phone about the project and left for school with the $200 check her parents had given her for the lamb. She never made it to class, despite witness accounts that put her near the school. The check was never cashed.
Police were initially unsure if Amber was a runaway or if she had been abducted, but later treated her case as a kidnapping.
After she vanished, Amber's mother, Carrie McGonigle, said that the two had talked shortly before her disappearance about what the teen would do if someone tried to grab her.
"She said she would kick and hit him," she said.