POWAY, Calif.—Scores of volunteers joined with professional search teams Monday in the ongoing search for a Poway High School senior who disappeared while jogging near Lake Hodges on Thursday.
The last known sighting of 17-year-old Chelsea King was on Thursday afternoon, when she went for a run in Rancho Bernardo Community Park, near Lake Hodges. Since then, hundreds of volunteers and law enforcement personnel have been searching for Chelsea, a straight-A student and member of the San Diego Youth Symphony. Numerous agencies have pitched in, scouring the area by foot, air and boat.
Divers and lifeguards were searching about 14 miles of shoreline around the lake while more than 60 search and rescue personnel performed a grid-style search of the area around park, San Diego Sheriff's spokeswoman Jan Caldwell said Monday afternoon. An FBI dive team from Los Angles was using sonar equipment to search the lake bottom, she said.
On Sunday, deputies arrested a registered sex offender on suspicion of murder and rape in connection with King's disappearance. John Albert Gardner III of Lake Elsinore was taken into custody in the case near a restaurant-bar in south Escondido, San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said.
Physical evidence led authorities to Gardner, 30, who was questioned by homicide detectives, Gore said. Authorities have declined to describe the clues, but Chelsea's mother told news stations this morning that her daughter's underwear was found near where she went missing.
Gardner was booked into San Diego Central Jail on suspicion of rape by force and first-degree murder, according to jail officials. Nonetheless, Gore told "Good Morning America'' that law enforcement personnel and volunteers would continue to looking for Chelsea in hopes of finding her alive.
Scores of volunteers showed up this morning at a search center behind a Citibank off Bernardo Center Drive, eager to help in the efforts to locate the teen. Law enforcement officials gathered them into groups and assigned them various locales to go through.
Gloria Kendall, 55, of Escondido was part of a team of about 20 people who searched an undeveloped area off Espola Road in Poway. They looked through heavy brush and around ponds, Kendall said.
"They tagged a shirt and some bones,'' she added.
Carlos Lindsey, a 53-year-old San Diegan, has helped search swamps, orchards and hillsides over the last three days. He called the turnout "unbelievable for a Monday.''
Dive teams, meanwhile, waded and swam through the shallows of Lake Hodges.
The man suspected of being responsible for Chelsea's disappearance was convicted 10 years ago of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old neighbor girl, according to court records.
Prior to arresting Gardner over the weekend, investigators searched his Riverside County home and other addresses, including a townhouse on Matinal Road near West Bernardo Drive, where Gardner has recently stayed with his parents. The residence is about a mile from the park where Chelsea went missing.
Gore said there was "a strong possibility'' that Gardner, who is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday afternoon, may be connected to an attack on a female jogger at the same park on Dec. 27.
Authorities also are reportedly investigating whether he was involved in the disappearance of Escondido High freshman Amber Dubois, who went missing while walking to school in February 2009. The girl, who was 14 at the time, remains at large.
Chelsea's parents, Brent and Kelly King, reported her missing after she failed to return from her after-school run. Brent King located her car in the parking lot at the park.
Investigators looked for clues on Chelsea's cell phone, which was found in her car, and her home computer.