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."
In 2000, Gardner pleaded guilty to committing a forcible lewd act on a 13-year-old girl after she testified that she escaped after he tried to strangle her.
He served five years of a six-year prison sentence and was released, even though a psychiatrist told the court that Gardner "would be a continued danger to underage girls in the community."
Members of the community where Gardner lived said they were outraged to learn that Gardner often stayed with his mother, who lives near an elementary school.