Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Disappearance and Murder of 17-Year-Old Chelsea King

Arraignment and Aftermath

Chelsea King
Chelsea King
The next day, Wednesday, March 3, 2010, John Albert Gardner III appeared before San Diego County Superior Court Judge Joseph Brannigan for his arraignment on charges that he raped and murdered Chelsea King. Chelsea's father and mother were present in the courtroom, as were family members of Amber Dubois. They were seated several rows behind the defendant. Gardner looked downward much of the time, and said little. He avoided making eye contact with either family. His hands were shackled, and sheriff's deputies stood at his side.

Charged with Chelsea's murder, along with the allegation that the murder was committed during the commission of rape or attempted rapea special circumstance that could bring him the death penalty if convicted, Gardner had a not guilty plea entered on his behalf by his attorneys, Michael Popkins. He was also charged with assault with the intent to commit rape for the December 27, 2009 attack on the out of state woman who had been visiting relatives in San Diego. Judge Brannigan ordered that Gardner be held without bail, and set his preliminary hearing for March 18, 2010which did not occur. The preliminary hearing was instead moved to August 4, 2010.

A gag order was also issued for the case, and as a result the cause of Chelsea's death, if it has yet been determined, has not been made public.

Amber Dubois
Amber Dubois
Three days after Gardner's arraignment, on Saturday morning, March 6, 2010, the skeletal remains of Amber Dubois were found in a rural area of northern San Diego County, the result of tips provided to authorities. The discovery was made 20 miles north of Escondido, north of the Pala Indian Reservation.

"The discovery was made in the early morning hours Saturday in a very rugged and remote area of Pala," Escondido Police Chief Jim Maher said at a press conference the next day. "Escondido police and sheriff's homicide detectives were following a lead in the case when they made the discovery."

Positive identification of Amber's remains was made through dental records.

Whether Amber's death is positively linked to Gardner remains to be seen.

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