Chelsea King: Police Find Body Believed to Be Missing Teen Runner

Days after sex offender is arrested, body thought to be student is discovered.

ByABC News via logo
March 2, 2010, 7:30 AM

March 2, 2010— -- Searchers found a body today believed to be 17-year-old San Diego high school student Chelsea King, who went missing when she went for a run in a park near her home last week, the San Diego County sheriff said.

The body was found in a shallow grave 10 feet from the shore of Lake Hodges, San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said today at a news conference.

"While the body has not been positively identified, there is a strong likelihood that we have found Chelsea," he said.

The body was found around 1 p.m. PT, he said, and the teen's parents have been notified.

"Obviously, they are devastated and I ask that you respect their privacy during this extremely difficult time," he said.

The discovery came six days after King went missing on Feb. 25 and two days after police arrested John Albert Gardner III, a convicted sex offender whose DNA they said was found on King's clothing near where police believe she was abducted.

The search for King began the evening she disappeared and intensified each day, as the FBI and members of local law enforcement agencies, supported by hundreds of volunteers, scoured the marshy areas near Lake Hodges, where King often went for lengthy jogs.

Authorities also employed teams of sniffer dogs, unmanned drone aircraft and helicopters equipped with infrared sensors to help find the straight-A high school senior, who also ran cross country at Poway High School and played in the school symphony.

Gardner, 30, was arrested on suspicion of rape and first degree murder and is scheduled to be charged Wednesday in a San Diego Court.

Police said Gardner, who was arrested in 2000 for committing lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14, may also be connected to the disappearance of Amber DuBois, a 14-year-old who disappeared near San Diego on her way to school in February 2009.