The worst nightmare


Editor’s note: This editorial was published in the Poway News Chieftain, one of the papers in the Mainstreet Communications group.

Nothing contained in this space will ease the pain, sorrow, anger and frustrations being felt today by those who will always love Chelsea King.

No words are going to fill the Grand Canyon-sized void in their lives created last Thursday afternoon after the 17-year-old Poway High student decided to shake off a little stress by doing what she loved more than just about anything else — running.

Chelsea has been described as a good daughter, an exemplary student, a talented musician and a compassionate friend. Like most Poway High seniors, she was waiting to hear from colleges to which she had applied. She was looking forward to that next chapter in her life, ready and eager to spread her wings.

Locking up her car in the lot of the Rancho Bernardo Community Center, Chelsea most likely stretched a bit, took a couple of deep breaths, then set off, alone, on one of the park’s trails.

As of this writing, we don’t know precisely why she has not finished her run. A 30-year-old convicted sex offender was arrested Sunday afternoon on suspicion of first-degree murder and rape. There is evidence, authorities say, linking him to Chelsea, but they won’t go into specifics. The suspect has been tied to a December assault on a female running in the same park. He served five years in prison for a 2000 sexual assault on a 13-year-old Rancho Bernardo girl. Other similar incidents are being investigated. His mother lives a short distance away from the park.

He has already been called many things by many people. The one thing he cannot be called at this point is guilty. That may or may not be the outcome of the legal process; one that will proceed in due course.

Once again, a nightmare of the worst kind has pulled our community together, much like it was when Danielle Van Dam went missing from her Sabre Springs home in 2002. Thousands of volunteers, connected now through social media and 7/24 news coverage, have helped in the search for Chelsea. While certainly laudable, in a way we expect this of ourselves, living where we do. In many respects, the Poway-Rancho Bernardo area is a small community of neighbors, who do things like this. It’s one of the reasons we live here. We help out because we understand that Chelsea could easily be our daughter, our neighbor, our friend.

The support shown by our community will help the King family through whatever lies ahead. It won’t make this nightmare go away, of course. Nothing will, until Chelsea comes home.