SAN DIEGO—Searchers found the body of a young woman, presumed to be Poway High School student Chelsea King, Tuesday afternoon in a shallow grave near Lake Hodges, San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore said.
"It is with great sadness this afternoon that we discovered shortly after 1 o'clock human remains near the water's edge in a shallow grave near area in which our search efforts have been concentrated. Although positive identification has not been made, there is the strong likelihood that we have found Chelsea," Gore said. "I have just left the home of Brent and Kelly King, where I shared this information. Obviously, they are devastated."
A dive team that was scouring the shoreline of the lake discovered the grave about 10 feet from the water's edge, Gore said. It was in the same general area where investigators found a shoe several days ago, and the area had been searched several times before, he added.
Investigators were mounting a full-scale crime scene investigation and technicians from the medical examiner's officer had been called to remove the body, Gore said.
Helicopter video showed a large contingent of law enforcement officers gathered on the south shore of Lake Hodges near several boats. The area was cordoned off with crime tape.
King, 17, vanished late Thursday afternoon after parking her car at Rancho Bernardo Community Park. A registered sex offender, John Albert Gardner III, was arrested Sunday in connection with Chelsea's disappearance. He was booked into county jail on suspicion of rape and murder.
Word of the grim discovery began spreading in the late afternoon among the throngs of volunteers who had joined in the desperate effort to find King, a straight-A student and member of the San Diego Youth Symphony and her school's cross-country team. As the news broke, some of those who had been donating their energies to the search sobbed and hugged each other for support.
The map below shows important locations around Lake Hodges in the search for Chelsea.