POWAY, Calif. -- Thousands attended a memorial service Saturday afternoon for Chelsea King, the 17-year-old girl whose body was found at Lake Hodges after she went missing while jogging near the lake.
Students handed out around 8,000 sunflowers wrapped with blue ribbons, and dozens of doves were let go at the end of the nearly two-hour service at the Poway High School stadium.
The program featured scanned images of papers that Chelsea posted on her bathroom mirror, with famous quotations in her own writing. One was from Eleanor Roosevelt: "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."
Family and friends spoke about Chelsea's big dreams, sense of humor, athleticism and thirst for knowledge.
Speakers said they hoped Chelsea's death would galvanize people to prevent other children from falling victim to predators.
"I will channel my rage and commit to spending my life to make our society safe from the incurable evil," said Chelsea's father, Brent King.
"As a father, as a parent, you dream of watching your children grow, experience, learn, challenge and embrace life," he said. "You never realize that, as a parent, you also sign up for pain."
Chelsea's mother, Kelly King, also openly grieved.
"I wake up every morning now and I have to remember how to breathe. As I get out of bed, I have to remember how to put one foot in front of the other," she said.
A moment of silence was held for Amber Dubois, whose bones were found last week north of San Diego more than a year after she went missing while walking to school.
Dubois' parents attended the service.
Authorities are investigating a possible link between the two girls' murders.
The service came 11 days after Chelsea's body was found in a shallow, lakeside grave, ending a massive five-day search. She had last been seen on Feb. 25 wearing running clothes in Rancho Bernardo Park.
John Gardner, 30, was arrested three days after Chelsea's body was found.
Police say Gardner was linked to King through semen found on her clothing.
State Department of Justice spokeswoman Christine Gasparac says Gardner was identified after his DNA was run through a national database.
The 30-year-old showed no emotion as his public defender entered pleas of not guilty to murder with a special allegation of rape or attempted rape, and another count of assault with intent to rape another woman last December in the same park.
The 22-year-old Colorado woman managed to fend off her attacker on Dec. 27 in Rancho Bernardo Community Park on the northern edge of San Diego, police Capt. Jim Collins said.
Candice Moncayo, a graduate student in Colorado Springs, was shown a mug shot of Gardner and confirmed it was the same man who attacked her in February, according to her sister.
Thousands Attend Memorial Service for Chelsea King
We've upgraded our reader commenting system. Learn more about the new features.
Los Angeles Times welcomes civil dialogue about our stories; you must register with the site to participate. We filter comments for language and adherence to our Terms of Service, but not for factual accuracy. By commenting, you agree to these legal terms. Please flag inappropriate comments.
Having technical problems? Check here for guidance.