In the hours after he was sentenced to life in prison for the rapes and murders of two southern California teenagers, John Gardner told authorities there are other crimes he may have been involved with.
At a news conference today, officials from several police agencies and the district attorney's office released previously withheld information about the Gardner cases, including the DNA evidence that initially led police to arrest the 31-year-old convicted sex offender in the February murder of 17-year-old Chelsea King.
The investigation into any other crimes Gardner may have committed is ongoing. Officials declined to elaborate on what specific criminal activity he may have been involved with beyond the possibility of other assaults.
Gardner didn't implicate himself in any other murders, police said, but investigators are taking a closer look at every missing persons case in the area involving women in their teens and 20s.
A task force comprised of members of nine agencies, including the FBI, was set up after King's murder to investigate any other crimes that could be tied to Gardner. It is still active even with Gardner behind bars for life.
Police declined to reveal exactly how Gardner was able to overtake King, who was last seen jogging in a park near her home. The DNA evidence that initially linked Gardner to her murder, they said, was "body fluid" on her clothes that would normally be found during the course of a sexual assault.
King's DNA was also on the clothing, they said.
Amber's mother, Carrie McGonigle told "Good Morning America" today that Gardner told her in a jailhouse meeting that he forced Amber into his car on Feb. 13, 2009 by trapping her on a fenced street and threatening her with a knife and gun.
He "told her to get in the car or it would be a lot worse for her," McGonigle told "Good Morning America" today. "She had nowhere to go. She was stuck."
McGonigle, who had spoken with Amber about being approached by strangers in the weeks before her murder, pushed hard to meet with Gardner before he was sentenced to learned why he targeted Amber and how he captured her.
"She was in the wrong place at the wrong time," the mom said.
McGonigle said Amber had apparently taken a different route to school that morning for reasons she'll never know. Gardner said he found her one block over from her normal path.
"He said, 'I had a knife and a gun,'" she said. "He says he didn't show it. I don't know."
Gardner has said he drove Amber about a half-hour north of her hometown where he raped and killed her. McGonigle said she intended to keep most of the details of her conversation with Gardner private out of respect for Amber's father and the rest of her family who don't want to hear the details.
"I needed answers," McGonigle said. "I waited 15 months, and I needed some answers."
Gardner's response, she said, gave her closure.
Now focused on her younger daughter, 7-year-old Allison, McGonigle said she needs to let go of the miserable emotions she let overtake her in the past 15 months.
"I don't want to hold on to all that anger and all that hate," she said.