Amber DuBois' Family Disagrees on Who Killed Her

Father believes it was jailed sex offender, grandmother thinks someone else

March 8, 2010— -- The family of Amber DuBois, the missing California teenager whose body was found over the weekend, are divided as to whether she was killed by the same sex offender recently charged with the rape and murder of Chelsea King.

DuBois disppeared more than a year ago and her skeletal remains were discovered Sunday, less than a week after registered sex offender John Albert Gardner III, 30, was arrested for the rape and murder of 17-year-old King.

In the aftermath of King's disappearance on Feb. 25, police linked Gardner to several near abductions in the area and speculated he may have played a role in DuBois' disappearance last year.

At a press conference immediately following Gardner's arraignment on March 4, Maurice DuBois said "there are enough similarities" between the two cases that he was confident Dubois and King were both killed by Gardner.

DuBois' grandmother and the private eye the family initially hired to find Amber, however, believe someone other than Gardner else is responsible for killing the Escondido High School student who vanished Feb. 13, 2009.

"The M.O. [modus operandi] for Gardner doesn't fit," said Michelle Bart, spokeswoman Dubois' grandmother Sheila Welch. "He stalks his prey and waited for girls in secluded areas where he could take advantage of them. Amber was walking outside in plain sight with other kids on her way to school. She was excited to get to school that day. She had Valentines and wanted to buy a lamb."

The lamb was part of DuBois' project as a member of the Future Farmers of America.

"Someone had to get her attention, and it is likely it was somebody she knew or trusted," Bart said.

San Diego County sheriffs have said Gardner has not cooperated with police since his arrest, diminishing the chances that he told investigators where to find DuBois' remains.

Authorities said Sunday they were given a tip that led them to find Dubois' body, but would not comment on the details of who led them to the girl's remains, or if she was buried in a shallow grave similar to the one in which King was found.

Mystery Tip Led to Remains of Amber DuBois

Questions remain about why someone would wait over a year to come forward with information in the case.

Private investigator Bill Garcia, initially hired by the family to find Dubois, believes the tipster may have been sitting on the information and was compelled to come forward after a week of national news coverage about King's disappearance and a possible connection to DuBois.

Garcia also does not believe that Gardner is responsible for DuBois' death and that the tip likely came from inside the insular Pala Indian reservation.

"My gut tells me that the tip came from the reservation," said Garcia.

Garcia said he was misquoted by a local newspaper as saying he felt that someone who knew what happened hadn't come forward previously because that person felt threatened.

The family's private investigation had long focused on Pala. They believe police did not follow up on leads there provided by private investigators.

In August, Bart said, a family investigation led by another private detective using specially trained dogs signaled that DuBois had been on the reservation.

"We have reason to believe she may have been alive in August," said Bart. "Where the remains were found were exactly where we told cops to look."

Police and prosecutors have helped fuel speculation that Gardner is connected both to King and to DuBois.

The San Diego District Attorney turned her press conference over to Maurice DuBois immediately following the Gardner's arraignment at the San Diego District Court.

"We've spoke to law enforcement. They are working on Amber's case hand-in-hand with the crime scene for this," Maurice DuBois said last week. "The similarities, the accessibility, the location ... there are enough similarities."

On Monday, a source at the prosecutor's office told ABC, that the district attorney had nothing to do with DuBois speaking at the same conference and that timing does not signal a connection between the cases.

"The press conference was held by the superior court," said the source. "We had nothing to do with it. We didn't invite them. The family said, 'As long as you have the cameras there, can we use them to talk about Amber?'"

Family of Chelsea King Now Comforts Family of Amber DuBois

In the first days that King disappeared, Maurice DuBois told ABC that his family had offered emotional support to the King family and helped organize volunteers searching for the girl.

On Monday, the families' roles reversed and the Kings returned the favor when the grisly announcement that Amber's body had been found.

"We have spoken with the Dubois family and our hearts go out to them in this time of deep sadness," Kelly and Brent King said in a statement. "We share their indescribable grief for the loss of Amber's precious young life."

Gardner, convicted in 2000 for molesting a 13-year-old girl, pleaded not guilty to charges that he raped and murdered Chelsea King. Prosecutors have not yet determined if he will face the death penalty, a process that can take weeks.