Chelsea King’s family creates foundation
The family of slain Poway High School senior Chelsea King announced today the creation of a nonprofit agency to serve as a vehicle for their efforts to tighten laws that are supposed to protect the public from sex offenders.
The Chelsea’s Light Foundation will strive for legislative and law enforcement change in the name of the 17-year-old straight-A student, whose body was found in a shallow grave near Lake Hodges on March 2, five days after she went missing during a jogging outing in northern San Diego.
A registered sex offender has been charge with sexually assaulting and murdering her.
With a “specific plan of action ... defined over the coming weeks and months,” the organization will “work in concert with California Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher to develop a path forward, beginning with California and subsequently the nation,” King family spokeswoman Sara Muller Fraunces said.
Chelsea’s parents, Brent and Kelly King, issued the following statement regarding the fledgling agency:
“We know that the path to healing will be long and unsteady because Chelsea’s absence leaves such a gaping hole in our hearts, our family and our community. We will reach past our grief and focus our rage to bring about changes that will make our communities safer. Establishing the Chelsea’s Light Foundation is our first positive step in that direction. We invite global participation. As Chelsea loved to say, ‘Go big or go home.’”
On Saturday, an overflow crowd of more than 6,000 people packed Poway High School’s football stadium for a memorial honoring Chelsea, described by her principal as a “shining light” that the community must make sure is never extinguished.
The avid cross-country runner and San Diego Youth Symphony member disappeared Feb. 25 in Rancho Bernardo Community Park. A search by law enforcement teams from numerous agencies, aided by thousands of citizen volunteers, ended five days later with the discovery of her body.
Three days after the teen went missing, John Albert Gardner III, 30, was arrested on suspicion of raping and killing her. Police sources have said DNA found on the victim’s underwear incriminated Gardner.
The suspect also is under investigation in connection with the disappearance and apparent murder of 14-year-old Amber Dubois of Escondido, who vanished while walking to school in February 2009. Her skeletal remains were found early this month on a hillside in Pala, near the Riverside County border.
Gardner pleaded guilty 10 years ago to sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl in his mother’s townhouse, which is located about a mile from the park where Chelsea disappeared.