Hundreds expected to complete Chelsea King’s run


Hundreds of runners are expected to flock to Rancho Bernardo Community Park Saturday to symbolically complete the jog that slain Poway teen Chelsea King never got to finish.

The 17-year-old’s body was found in a shallow grave alongside a tributary of Lake Hodges on March 2, five days after she went missing during an after-school run. Registered sex offender John Albert Gardner III, 30, has been charged with sexually assaulting and murdering the straight-A student.

Beginning at 7 a.m. Saturday, runners will meet in the parking lot of Westfield North County on Via Rancho Parkway to catch shuttles to the northern San Diego park. A three-mile run/walk over trails near the lake is scheduled to begin two hours later.

The memorial event is being set up via a Facebook page titled “Finish Chelsea’s Run.” Pets on leashes and children are welcome, according to organizers.

Gardner could face the death penalty if convicted of killing the teen, who was a member of the San Diego Youth Symphony and Poway High’s cross-country team. A preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for early August.

The defendant is also charged with attacking a young female jogger in the same park in late December. In that earlier incident, the 22-year-old victim escaped after elbowing her attacker in the face.

In addition, investigators have described Gardner as a “focal point” of their investigation into the apparent murder of 14-year-old Amber Dubois of Escondido, who went missing while walking to school in February 2009. The high school freshman’s remains were discovered on a remote hillside in the Pala area two weekends ago.