Newly unsealed warrant shows Gardner stalked Escondido woman
By KELLY WHEELER
City News ServiceThe admitted killer of San Diego area teenagers Chelsea King and Amber Dubois spent an entire day following a 20-year-old woman in Escondido a year ago, according to search warrants released Wednesday.
According to the warrants, an officer was flagged down by the young woman, who pointed to a gray vehicle and said the driver had been following her all day for no reason.
The officer intercepted the driver as he tried to leave and identified him as John Albert Gardner III, then went back to contact the woman to take a crime report. But she had left the area and was never identified, according to the search warrant.
Gardner, 31, had lived in Escondido from as early as August 2008 through January of this year, according to authorities.
Judge Richard Whitney on Wednesday ordered four search warrants unsealed in the Gardner case.
He will be sentenced May 14 to a pair of consecutive life prison terms without the possibility of parole, plus an additional 33 years to life for assaulting a woman late last year. He pleaded guilty to both murders on April 16.
Chelsea, an avid runner and straight-A senior at Poway High School, disappeared on the afternoon of Feb. 25 after going for a run at Rancho Bernardo Community Park. The 17-year-old’s body was discovered five days later in a shallow grave near a tributary of Lake Hodges. She had been strangled.
Amber was a 14-year-old freshman at Escondido High School when she vanished while walking to school in February 2009. Her skeletal remains were found last month in Pala. An autopsy determined that she had been stabbed to death.
Both teens had been raped.
Early last month, three days after Gardner was arraigned on charges of murdering Chelsea, he led authorities to Amber’s body. In return, prosecutors agreed not to use his knowledge of the whereabouts of her remains against him in court.
In denying that he had specifically targeted the victims, Gardner told KFMB-TV last week that “it wasn’t about their age” and said he was on seemingly routine outings prior to the abductions.
“To calm myself, I’ll go for a walk, or I’ll go for a drive, just to calm down,” Gardner said.
He described the impulse to attack the girls as sudden and overwhelming.
“I mean, I was aware of what I was doing, and I could not stop myself,” Gardner said. “I was — had a major rage, and (was) pissed off, and pissed off at my whole life and everybody that’s hurt me. And (I) blew up, and I hurt the wrong people.”
Gardner spoke remorsefully of his crimes several times during the interview.
“I hate myself,” Gardner said. “I really do. There is no — there is no taking back what I did. And if I could, yes I would. Are you kidding me? But I was out of control. If I was able to stop myself in the middle of it, I would’ve. And I could not. I was out of control.”