John Albert Gardner

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John Albert Gardner III
John Albert Gardner III.jpg
Born (1979-04-09) April 9, 1979 (age 35)
Culver City, California, U.S.
Nationality American
Criminal charge
2 counts of first-degree murder, assault with the intent to rape
Criminal penalty
Two life sentences without possibility of parole, one term of 25 years to life, and an additional 24 years imprisonment
Criminal status
Sentenced May 14, 2010

John Albert Gardner III (born April 9, 1979) is an American convicted double murderer and sex offender.[1] He confessed to the February 2009 rape and murder of 14-year-old Amber Dubois from Escondido, California. [2][3][4] and the February 2010 rape and murder of 17-year-old Chelsea King from Poway, California, not far from Gardner's mother's home, where he lived, in the Rancho Bernardo community, after he entered a plea agreement which spared him from the death penalty. Additionally, Gardner attempted to rape Candice Moncayo of San Diego County, and had been previously incarcerated for the molestation of a 13-year-old girl.[5] In July 2012, author Caitlin Rother wrote the book Lost Girls, about Gardner and his motivation for murdering Chelsea King and Amber Dubois.[6]

Early life[edit]

Gardner was born in Culver City, California. His parents divorced, and Gardner frequently relocated around Southern California as a child (including Palmdale, California) and lived in Running Springs, California as a teenager.[7] He graduated from Rim of the World High School of Lake Arrowhead, California in 1997 with a 3.2 grade point average and IQ of 113.[8][9] He was also diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.[8] He later said that his father was an alcoholic who beat him.[8]

While in high school, Gardner worked in odd jobs including as a lifeguard at a resort in Lake Arrowhead. As a teenager, he was convicted of trespassing at a high school. After graduating from high school, Gardner moved to San Diego and worked at a Big 5 Sporting Goods store.[8]

Prior conviction[edit]

Gardner had been convicted in 2000 of molesting a 13-year-old female neighbor. He spent five years in prison and completed his parole in 2008,[10] although it was determined that he had violated the terms of his parole seven times,[11] including living too close to a school in 2007. Gardner was also investigated by his parole officer for possession of marijuana, though this incident was later dismissed.[12] He was also being tracked by a GPS anklet up until four months before the murder of Amber. He was too close to schools, in front of a daycare at one point, and also on prison grounds dropping off a friend according to the GPS data.[citation needed]

Murders[edit]

Gardner's first murder victim was 14-year-old Amber Dubois, who disappeared in February 2009. Her skeletal remains were later recovered by police in March 2010, after the police had questioned Gardner about her murder. Gardner had been arrested on February 28, 2010, in the Del Dios district of Escondido, California, when his DNA matched a DNA sample taken from the discarded clothing of Chelsea King, a senior from nearby Poway High School.[13] King had disappeared on February 25, 2010, while she was jogging in the early evening at the Rancho Bernardo Community Park, near Lake Hodges. FBI divers found her body five days later (on March 2, 2010) buried in a shallow grave on the southeast corner of the lake's inlet, where some of her clothes had been found.[14]

DNA evidence from King's clothing, along with a December 2009 attempted attack on a female jogger who managed to fight him off, led Escondido and San Diego police to patrol the area for a man fitting Gardner's description. He was arrested on February 28 at a bar and restaurant in Del Dios, at the western shore of Lake Hodges in Escondido. A witness has indicated that Gardner returned to the park subsequent to King's disappearance.[15]

Guilty pleas[edit]

On April 16, 2010, Gardner pleaded guilty to the murder and rape of both Dubois (who disappeared on February 13, 2009, and whose skeletal remains were found on the grounds of the Pala, California Indian Reservation on March 6, 2010)[16] and King, after prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty. He admitted to kidnapping, raping, and stabbing Dubois. He also admitted dragging King to a remote area where he raped and strangled her, and then buried the body. In addition, Gardner pleaded guilty to attempting to rape Candice Moncayo in December 2009, who was able to fight back and escape.[17] Sentencing was set for June 1, 2010, although it took place on May 14, where Gardner was sentenced to two terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole.[18]

The parents of Amber and Chelsea, and the surviving victim Candice Moncayo, made impact statements prior to sentencing describing the impact Gardner's crimes had on their lives, and their determination to see to it that "Chelsea's Law"–signed into California state law by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on September 9, 2010–was passed to help prevent similar crimes in the future.[19] During the trial, the Kings retained Michael Fell, a California criminal lawyer and former prosecutor, who specializes in representing victims under Marsy's Law, the state constitutional amendment that guarantees legal rights for victims of crime.[20]

Sentencing[edit]

On May 14, 2010, Judge David Danielsen sentenced Gardner to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, one term of 25 years to life imprisonment, and an additional 24 years of imprisonment.[18][21] At the sentencing hearing, the parents of the victims addressed the court and spoke to Gardner. Kelly King, whose daughter, Chelsea, was murdered by Gardner, said that her daughter, whom she described as a sweet, loving, and innocent soul who would not have been able to fathom Gardner, who committed such brutal murders. [22]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gustafson, Craig. "Suspect pleads not guilty to Chelsea King murder". SignOnSanDiego.com. Retrieved 2010-03-12. 
  2. ^ David Lohr Contributor. "Did System Fail Slain California Teen Chelsea King?". AOL News. Retrieved 2010-03-12. 
  3. ^ "Amber Dubois' Father Speaks After Gardner Arraignment". 10news.com. Retrieved 2010-03-12. 
  4. ^ "Police: Remains of California teen Amber Dubois found". Cnn.com. 2010-03-08. Retrieved 2010-04-17. 
  5. ^ "Gardner Plea Agreement". media.signonsandiego.com. Retrieved 2010-06-17. 
  6. ^ Shin, Tony. "Amber Dubois' Mother Confronts 'Lost Girls' Author". Article. NBC San Diego. Retrieved 17 August 2012. 
  7. ^ Figueroa, Teri (March 9, 2010). "Old report offers peek into Gardner's past". North County Times. Retrieved November 17, 2012. 
  8. ^ a b c d Marosi, Richard (March 10, 2010). "A chilling early view of an accused killer". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 17, 2012. 
  9. ^ Musa, Jennifer. "Sex Offender John Gardner's Former Friend Speaks Out". KSWB. Retrieved November 17, 2012. 
  10. ^ Search for Chelsea King: Monday. "Search for Chelsea King focuses on Lake Hodges area". SignOnSanDiego.com. Retrieved 2010-03-12. 
  11. ^ Gardner, Michael (2010-03-13). "Gardner not kept on short leash, documents show". SignOnSanDiego.com. Retrieved 2010-04-17. 
  12. ^ The Associated Press (2010-03-12). "Convicted sex offender John Albert Gardner III violated parole before allegedly committing murder". New York: Nydailynews.com. Retrieved 2010-04-17. 
  13. ^ Edecio Martinez (2010-03-04). "Chelsea King: Official Says DNA Found in Clothes Links Sex Offender". CBS News. 
  14. ^ Gustafson, Craig (2010-03-02). "Thousands of mourners gather for Chelsea King". SignOnSanDiego.com. Retrieved 2010-03-12. 
  15. ^ "Woman describes encounter with Gardner at RB park". cbs8.com KFMB Channel 8. Retrieved 2010-03-12. 
  16. ^ Police: Remains of California teen Amber Dubois found
  17. ^ "CNN.com". CNN. 
  18. ^ a b By Elliot Spagat, Associated Press Writer (2010-05-15). "Killer of 2 California girls gets life in prison". ABC News. Retrieved 2010-11-07. 
  19. ^ Lagos, Marisa (2010-09-10). "Today in History". The San Francisco Chronicle. 
  20. ^ http://ag.ca.gov/victimservices/content/bill_of_rights.php
  21. ^ By Joseph Peña,  SDNN. "Confessed killer John Gardner sentenced to life for Chelsea and Amber's murders". Sdnn.com. Retrieved 2010-05-15. 
  22. ^ Grinberg, Emanuella (16 May 2010). "Parents of Chelsea King, Amber Dubois address killer at sentencing". CNN. Retrieved 27 June 2013. 

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