Gardner press conference yields few new details
Now that John Gardner has been convicted and sentenced to three life terms in prison for Chelsea King and Amber Dubois murders, the San Diego law enforcement community held a collective press conference to answer questions from the media. While many questions were asked, reporters were left with confirmation on details dug up during the investigative phase of the double murder and rape cases.
Details that stood out included acknowledgment that Gardner was taken out of county jail on a field trip to point out where he buried Amber Dubois’ body. Authorities say the excursion lasted approximately three hours. During this time there was another search in Escondido at Kit Carson Park and the media speculated this was a ruse to keep press away from the recovery of Amber’s remains that however was dispelled by the Escondido Police Department.
Law enforcement representatives at the press conference invoked Marcy’s Law several times to prevent the media from the gory details that are protected under the California law. This law ensures victims’ families are reasonably shielded from gruesome details that could cause undo stress and privacy issues.
The only family members at the press conference were Amber’s father Moe Dubois and his girlfriend. (Amber’s mother was in New York talking to Good Morning America.)
The King family chose not to attend and submitted a statement through their attorneys Luce Forward. The statement read in part, “we continue to advocate for the preservation of Chelsea’s dignity and prevention of further trauma to her family… To preserve those rights, we have made written request to all involved agencies not to voluntarily disclosure or discuss the crime scene photographs that depict Chelsea, any sexual assault examination reports or photographs by the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s office regarding Chelsea.”
The King family further explains that the community has suffered enough and only seeks the opportunity to grieve and heal in the coming months. “The perpetrator has been captured, confessed to his crimes and shortly will be sent to prison for life. It is time for healing, not a time to unearth painful details made irrelevant by the defendant’s decision to admit his crimes,” the statement concluded.
It’s true the perpetrator has been caught but in order to prevent future breakdowns in law enforcement investigations they must garner all the relevant information. It is clear there were a number of breakdowns along the way and currently the bull’s-eye lands on the San Diego Police Department.
The SDPD handled jogger Candice Moncayo’s attack in the same Rancho Bernardo park just weeks earlier in late December. Little was gleaned from this police report and SDPD Capt. Jim Collins offered nothing new.
The attack was classified as a robbery, even though Moncayo was tackled, told her attacker ‘you’ll have to kill if you want to rape me.’ Gardner replied, “That can be arranged.” Before Moncayo was able to break free, she elbowed Gardner in the nose and then he apparently asked for money.
Again this took place in an isolated location and female joggers usually do not carry cash while running. Moncayo herself said she thought it was an attempted rape.
However, the jogger was able to fight off her attacker and reported that she elbowed her assailant in the face most likely breaking his nose- this self-defense gave her an opportunity to run for her life.
The San Diego Police Department was called to investigate the scene and after interviewing the victim concluded it was a failed robbery.
“A failed robbery? How many women go jogging in a county park carrying a purse, computer, camera and cash? Anyone with common sense knows something like would take place at a car or home,” says Poway resident Carry who wished to protect her last name.
The jogging victim’s mother found the outcome odd as well. She reported that her daughter was tackled like a football player and a large man fitting Gardner’s description tried to aggressively subdue her daughter.
This where the communication break downs begin. San Diego Police Department was convinced the female was a victim of a robbery attempt because at some point during the attack he asked for money. Not many women are buying that excuse.
According to Moncayo who was attacked on Dec. 27th, she wanted to sit down with a police sketch artist to create a composite drawing of her attacker; the SDPD was too busy to follow through with her request. However, the female returned home to her Colorado home and was able to get a local Police Dept. to draw a sketch. The likeness to Gardner is astonishing.
“There’s a lot of frustration and anger out there right now,” said Gary Carlson the Rancho Bernardo neighborhood watch coordinator. “The San Diego Police Department did not personally notify us after the Dec. 27th attack occurred. It was a failure in communications that the attack was classified as a simple robbery on the crime log.”
According to Carlson, recent cutbacks in community spending may have been a factor in the SDPD not reaching out to community leaders sooner. Had the Police Department notified community leader an action plan would have been implemented.
“First, we would have notified all of our district leaders who would bring neighbors up to speed. The community would have mobilized and put together fliers to post at local businesses, entrances to the park as well as post fliers door-to-door.”
Finally, the Rancho Bernardo Neighborhood Watch group would have posted information on their website and been in constant contact with law enforcement officers monitoring the case progress.
“Hind sight is 20/20, but I can say we would have been proactive,” Carlson said.
Moving forward Carlson believes the police and community can learn from this tragedy and figure out a communication system that will provide a timely alert mechanism for future incidents that may arise.
Collins went on to explain the Moncayo attack lasted no more than 30 seconds and acknowledged the DNA obtained from Moncayo’s elbow sat on the DNA labs shelf until Gardner was arrested for Chelsea’s murder.
Yet when asked about the current county backlog on DNA, Collins said there was a two to three week wait. However, the DNA labs admit the wait is many months and in some of the rape kits cases the wait is well over a year.
If the Moncayo case was handled differently, perhaps, Chelsea would be alive today, community residents speculated.
When discussion turned to the death penalty, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis repeated the office line that “the death penalty is a hollow promise in California.” However she only admitted Gardner’s public defender was the one who requested that the death penalty be taken off the table when pressed further by reporters. The end result led law enforcement officials to Ambers remains in Pala California about 30 minutes north of her home.
In the end all the explanations will not bring back Amber or Chelsea home and the community is no closer to knowing how the mind of criminal psychopath Gardner works, but Kristen Spieler, deputy district attorney who handled the legal prosecution summed it up best. “The defect was not in his mind, it was in his character.”