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Sex offender charged in Calif. teen’s murder

Associated Press / March 4, 2010

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SAN DIEGO - A convicted sex offender has been charged with murdering a San Diego County teenage girl who vanished after heading off for a run in a park.

Prosecutors say John Albert Gardner III, 30, also faces a special allegation of rape or attempted rape, and a count of assault with intent to commit rape in a December attack on another female.

An attorney entered pleas of not guilty on behalf of Gardner during his brief court appearance yesterday. Gardner stood in shackles, looking downward.

Chelsea King, 17, was last seen alive on Thursday, and her car was found that night at a semirural park in northeastern San Diego.

After a huge search, a body was found Tuesday in a grave by a lake, and authorities said they believed it was King, although positive identification is pending.

Gardner pleaded guilty in 2000 to molesting a 13-year-old neighbor girl.

Police said a spray-painted message found on the garage of the suspect’s mother read, “Chelseas blood is on you. Move out.’’ Police did not know who painted it. Gardner lived at the Rancho Bernardo home in 2000, when he molested a teenage neighbor.