Chelsea King Searchers 'Move Heaven and Earth' to Find Girl

Straight-A San Diego high school student has been missing since Thursday.

February 27, 2010, 4:44 PM

Feb. 27, 2010— -- Police and scores of volunteers searched through chilly, rainy weather today for a 17-year-old San Diego straight-A student who disappeared Thursday after going out for a run.

Chelsea King, 17, of Poway, Calif., in San Diego County, disappeared after parking her BMW sedan outside Rancho Bernardo Community Center on Thursday afternoon, and when she was late coming home her parents called police, San Diego County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Jan Caldwell said.

The search for King began Thursday night and continued throughout Friday, Caldwell said.

Sheriff's deputies were joined by the FBI, the San Diego Police Department, the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department and the Del Mar Lifeguard Service. Caldwell said 90 law enforcement personnel were deployed in 15 search and rescue teams.

Helicopters, volunteers and officers on horseback, bloodhounds and officers on ATVs scoured an area roughly four miles square along the shores of Lake Hodges today, Caldwell said.

"We're literally moving heaven and earth to find this little girl," Caldwell said.

This afternoon divers also searched the lake, while law officers and volunteers combed the streams and rivers feeding into the basin, Sheriff Bill Gore told ABC San Diego affiliate KGTV.

"It's been a truly great effort by everybody, all with the same goal of trying to return Chelsea to her family," Gore said. "It's obviously the unknown that's so stressful and so traumatic in something like this."

The searches will continue throughout the night and Sunday, the sheriff said.

"We wouldn't be here if there wasn't a chance of finding her," Gore said. "The more we search, the more we can eliminate."

The area where the teen disappeared, on the south shore of Lake Hodges, is rocky, uneven terrain, criss-crossed by trails through rough brush.

King's parents were given a private briefing this morning on what investigators know, Caldwell said, but she declined to give any information about what, if any, evidence had been found regarding what might have happened to the girl.

"We don't have specific indications, but we're not ruling anything out," she said.

There were local reports Friday that a girl's shoe might have been found near Lake Hodges, but Caldwell would neither confirm nor deny the reports.

"I'm not speculating about anything that may or may not have been found," she said.

On Friday, dozens of King's friends and fellow students at Poway High School joined the search, KGTV reported.

Chelsea King Missing Since Thursday; FBI Aids in Search

Poway High junior Breanna McArdle, who like King runs cross country, told KGTV she heard about her teammate's disappearance while checking her Facebook account Thursday night, and decided to join the search Friday.

"[Chelsea is] amazingly energetic and really, really nice and really charismatic," McArdle said.

At a news conference Friday evening, San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said deputies impounded King's home computer and cell phone, according to ABC San Diego affiliate KGTV.

"We're in the process of downloading information from [them], seeing if there might be anything that might of help to us in our [effort] to return Chelsea to her parents," Gore said.

Police were hoping that she had just gotten lost on her run and would be found unharmed, he said.

"I'm still optimistic," he said. "It's a big area we're looking through, and hopefully we'll get the right lead or the right clue or the right tip that takes us to Chelsea and we'll get her back home in the near future."

Gore described the girl's parents as "worried to death."

"They want their daughter home safe and sound," he said.

Chelsea is white, 5-feet-5 inches tall and 115 pounds, with strawberry blond hair and blue eyes.

She is a member of the San Diego Youth Symphony and a straight-A student at Poway High School, where she is due to graduate this spring.

A family spokesman told KGTV that she has been eagerly awaiting college acceptance letters.

The sheriff's department asked that anyone with information about King's whereabouts call 858-565-5200.