March 4, 2010— -- The registered sex offender charged with raping and murdering 17-year-old Chelsea King could be linked to "several" attempted kidnappings in the area, police said today.
Police in Lake Elsinore, Calif., a San Diego suburb where John Albert Gardner III registered as a sex offender in January, are reexamining several recent assaults on young women.
The family of a 16-year-old girl told police Sunday, the day Gardner was arrested, that their daughter recognized Gardner from news reports as the man who tried to kidnap her on Oct. 28, 2009.
"At the time we didn't have a suspect," said Sgt. Joe Borjas of the Riverside County Police Department. "We're taking another look at all of the recent incidents that bear a similarity to the King case, including that one."
The girl reported the attempted kidnapping on the day it happened, telling police she was on her way to a friend's house around 7 a.m. when she was approached by a man in a gold 1990s four-door sedan asking directions.
The man showed her a gun and demanded she get in his car, but she refused and ran away.
A police sketch from the time, compiled from the girl's description, bears a striking resemblance to Gardner.
The girl described the man who tried to abduct her as 30-35 years old, with brown hair, fair skin and a blonde crew cut.
Police said the October incident was one of several reported attempted abductions reported last fall.
Borjas said police had not tallied all the cases that could be related, but there were numerous similar incidents at the time.
"We don't know exactly how many cases there are, we're in that process right now," said Borjas. "There are several with similarities from around that time."