A woman who fought off an attacker on a San Diego jogging trail has identified her assailant as the same man who is being held on suspicion of raping and killing teenager Chelsea King on the same jogging path, her sister told ABCNews.com today.
Candice Moncayo, 23, a graduate student in Colorado Springs, was shown a mug shot of John Gardner III, a convicted sex offender arrested in connection with the disappearance of King, and confirmed it was the same man who attacked her in February.
"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.'"
Gardner, 30, was arrested on Sunday, four days after King disappeared during a jog on the afternoon of Feb. 25. Police said they found Gardner's DNA on clothing belonging to King.
Police believe Gardner may also be connected to an attack on another missing San Diego teen, 14-year-old Amber DuBois who disappeared in February 2009.
Moncayo's sister said she hoped the information police learned could help them convict Gardner, who was arrested on suspicion of rape and first degree murder and will be arraigned in court Wednesday.
"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."
The search for King has focused the search on 14 miles of shoreline as police continue to probe the area with a high-tech drone aircraft and helicopters with infrared equipment.
But it's a search, some say, that never should have had reason to exist. Gardner was one of 83,000 registered sex offenders living in California, a state that is overburdened with staffing shortages and budget crises.
"The law is good, but it's got to be implemented," Ernie Allen, CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, told "Good Morning America." The reality is the most dangerous offenders seek situations where they can be anonymous, where no one knows they're there. Where they have easy access to children."
Allen said that changes are both needed and possible, but lawmakers can't use budget constraints as an excuse.
"There is no higher priority than protecting the children and maintaining public safety," he said.