Report: Escondido police had contact with Garnder in past


Registered sex offender John Albert Gardner III, the suspect in the rape-murder of Chelsea King, was contacted by Escondido police at least eight times since January 2008, far more times than usual, it was reported Friday.

Contacts with sex offenders are normally made once a year, on or around their birthday, or when they move, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune, which reported that Escondido police declined to explain why Gardner — who used to live in Escondido — was contacted so frequently.

Gardner, 30, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to raping and murdering the 17-year-old King, a Poway High senior who went missing Feb. 25 after she went for an after-school run in the Lake Hodges area. Her body was found late Tuesday afternoon.

Authorities have said they are investigating whether Gardner — who assaulted a 13-year-old girl in 2000 — was connected to several other open cases involving girls in San Diego and Riverside counties. Those cases include the disappearance of Amber Dubois, who was 14 when she went missing just over a year ago while walking to Escondido High School. The teen has never been found.

Escondido police Lt. Craig Carter told the Union-Tribune he couldn’t say whether the unusually high number of contacts made with Gardner had anything to do with Amber.

Gardner — who is being held without bail in solitary confinement in a downtown jail cell — was ordered back to court Tuesday in the Chelsea King case, and a preliminary hearing was tentatively scheduled for March 18.