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K-9 dogs donated by Honorary Sheriff’s named after murdered San Diego teenagers

The rape and murder of two San Diego teenagers that gripped the country, raised awareness levels regarding child predators and saw California implement the country’s toughest child sexual offenders penalties, also prompted a local organization to donate search and rescue dogs. The two K-9s will be named Amber and Chelsea, after the two slain teenagers.

The San Diego County Honorary Deputy Sheriff’s Association (HDSA) bought the search and rescue dogs for the Sheriff Department after the murder investigations concluded at a cost of $10,000 per K-9.

“Once we decide to tackle a project, like buying the search and rescue dogs, our members really step up,” says Wayne Hanson vice president of HDSA. “It only took us two weeks to raise the money for the two dogs.”

According to their website, the San Diego Sheriff’s Department the Search and Rescue (SAR) K-9 Unit has been in around for more than 30 years. The teams respond to local, state and federal law enforcement as well as other public service agency requests anytime day or night.

Hanson says San Diegians have been very good to him and are very charitable people. It is for this reason Hanson volunteers for HDSA and he takes pride in helping local law enforcement especially in tough economic times. “We’ve been able to raise more than $10 million over the past 35 years.

For example a month or so ago a new search and rescue squad was put together using a $75,000 donation from the HDSA organization.

The donation will facilitate a purchase of a trailer as well as items needed to set-up a field location unit that will be able to assist in disaster recoveries like, earthquakes, fire, floods or terrorist attacks, according to Search and Rescue Coordinator Sgt. Don Parker of the San Diego Sheriff’s Department.

Many of the members of this organization are former law enforcement or retired military personnel who take pride in extending their public service through HDSA. The volunteer network consists of roughly 700 members who are able to procure law enforcement tools, like first aid kits for cars, that various departments may need, but haven’t been able to get through limited federal funds.

The Honorary Deputy Sheriff’s Association came to be in 1974 and was started by then Sheriff John Duffy. Their mission was to build an organization that would support training and securing equipment for local law enforcement agencies.

One of their big projects was to build a weapons training facility aptly named after founder Sheriff Duffy. The facility has now grown into Duffy’s Town and has ranges 5, 6, and 7, ballistics testing, classrooms, an obstacle course, rappel tower as well as administrative offices.

HDSA covers the approximately $40 thousand yearly upkeep costs at the training facility and continues to train more community members in gun safety using the Sheriff’s gun range.

Over the weekend the volunteer organization held another fundraiser. Members of HDSA, their family as well as Sheriff Department employees came out to Duffy Town to bone up on gun safety. The volunteers were also working in coordination with the Sheriff’s Department to offer the written-and-practical training needed to obtain a CCW gun permit.

Hanson said, “Three Sheriff’s deputies were on hand to supervise while participants learned all about gun safety and how to properly handle and shoot a firearm.” HDSA Members were even lucky enough to “use some of the Sheriff Department’s weapons,” he said.

The Honorary Deputy Sheriff Association also assists San Diego Police Department and National City Police Department.

For more information on HDSA visit their website; http://www.sdchdsa.org/

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/it-s-d-day-for-california-s-dream-act-the-clock-is-ticking

The nation’s toughest child predator legislation signed into law in California

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law one of the nation’s toughest child predator legislation aptly named after teenager Chelsea King who captured the country’s attention when her life was cut short by a repeat child predator.

“My single greatest priority as governor is to protect the safety and well being of all Californians,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “When a terrible tragedy like what happened to Chelsea King and Amber Dubois occurs, we have to review the laws in place and see where improvements or changes can be made to make our state safer and make it tougher on the predators who want to create victims out of innocent Californians. I am proud to sign these bills today that will do just that.”

The ceremonial bill signing got off to a rainy start at San Diego’s Balboa Park; Gov. Schwarzenegger was joined by Chelsea’s parents, Brent and Kelly King, and the bill’s author, State Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher (R-San Diego), San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, Assembly Speaker John Perez, (D-Los Angeles), and Sen. Dennis Hollingsworth, (R-Murrieta). Amber Dubois’ mother was also in attendance showing her support for the newly-minted sexual predator law.

Assembly Bill 1844, also known as Chelsea’s Law, requires a life sentence without the possibility of parole for forcible sex acts against children. It will also strengthen sex offense parole guidelines and entail lifelong GPS tracking for some sex offenders. The law will set tough parole guidelines for officers to follow in an effort to prevent another tragedy.

The Chelsea law legislation was approved unanimously by the state Senate and Assembly in record time. All the lawmakers in attendance spoke repeatedly about the bipartisanship of this bill and expressed hope they could work together on other issues because of Chelsea’s law.

King was murdered and raped near her home in Poway at Ranchero Bernardo Park, where she often went for an afternoon jog, on Feb. 25. Her killer was registered sex offender John Albert Gardner, who buried the 17-year-old in a shallow grave along the shore of Lake Hodges inside the park.

Two time murderer, Gardner brokered a plea deal and was sentenced to two life terms without the possibility of parole for killing and sexually assaulting King and also for abducting, raping and stabbing 14-year-old Amber Dubois of Escondido the previous year.

“Because of Chelsea, everyone has joined together to solve this serious problem in our state,’’ Schwarzenegger somberly said. “Because of Chelsea, California’s children will be safer. Because of Chelsea, this never has to happen again.”

Fletcher, the author of the new law said Chelsea’s Law which became law immediately, puts the state of California at the forefront when dealing with violent sex offenders.

“We are about to see signed into law a sweeping piece of legislation that will better protect our children, who are the most vulnerable, the most innocent, the most precious,” Fletcher said. “Today is a very good day for them.”

Chelsea’s law creates a “true one-strike life without the possibility of parole charge” for violent child sex offenders who stalk helpless children, Fletcher said. “If you don’t believe you can rehabilitate someone that violently sex offends a child, you should not let them out, and today California will adopt this.”

Assemblyman Fletcher went on to say, “Governor Schwarzenegger was supportive of our efforts from the very beginning and we are grateful for his commitment to public safety. Today’s signing would not have been possible without the tremendous bi-partisan support of legislators, the amazing strength of Brent and Kelly King, and the inspiriting dedication of the entire San Diego community.”

Fletcher also commended the community and state for their diligent strides to make sure this day was possible. “An unspeakable tragedy, a powerful voice, a community demanding action, a Legislature that responded, a governor about to make history. This is due to Chelsea King. Today is her day,” he said.

Chelsea’s father Brent started out by saying; “This is a day that marks so much in our lives, and we are honored that Governor Schwarzenegger has chosen to sign Chelsea’s Law in San Diego.”

Brent King said Chelsea’s Law will fix California’s “broken system and make sure that the worst of the worst violent child predators are locked up for life.”

During the highly emotional bill signing Chelsea’s mom, Kelly was visibly struggling to hold it together. “Our children look to us for guidance and understanding of how our world should be,” Kelly King said. “In supporting and passing Chelsea’s Law, you have shown them what is good and right and sound decision-making in government.”

Standing alongside Kelly King was her daughter’s close friend, Jenna Belknap, president of peer counseling at Poway High School where Chelsea went to high school, who braved the cameras and spoke from the heart about her buddy.

“We had to find a new sense of normal without Chelsea physically in our lives,” she said. “Chelsea King is not a past-tense kind of girl.”

Recently, Governor Schwarzenegger directed the Sex Offender Management Board to determine where systemic changes or improvements can be made to better protect the public. Following their review, the Governor directed his Administration to take action on the recommendations provided by the board including the implementation of the containment model included in Chelsea’s Law, according to a statement from his office.

Moe Dubois, Amber’s father who was not in attendance, has worked on three bills that Schwarzenegger plans on signing before he leaves office at the end of the year. The new bills will establish guidelines for handling missing-persons investigations, require law enforcement to notify national databases two hours after a child abduction — instead of the current four — and create a missing-persons position within the California Department of Justice to help authorities find abducted children, according to the governor’s office.

By the end of the bill signing ceremony, the sun peaked from behind the clouds and Chelsea’s family and friends said she was happy now as the tears of rain stopped- Chelsea was now spreading sunshine and happiness for all of California’s children.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/a-showdown-with-san-diego-sheriff-s-dept-and-issuance-of-conceal-carry-permits-set-for-court

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.”

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-10317-San-Diego-County-Political-Buzz-Examiner

Gardner sentenced for the murder of two San Diego teenagers that rocked San Diego

John Gardner was convicted and sentenced for the murder and rape of two San Diego teenagers as well as the attempted rape of a college jogger. Gardner received two life sentences with out the possibility of parole for the murders and another 25 years for the attempted rape of the jogger- all to be served concurrently.

While the details of Gardner’s life may be certain, the healing process is just beginning for the families who lost their daughters in a brutal and senseless manner.

From the onset it was clear Gardner was agitated and knew the wrath of words he would have to listen to as each parent approached the podium and expressed what anger they felt for someone who wasn’t of this life.

The biggest reaction Gardner displayed came from hearing Amber’s mom Carrie McGonigle, he literally broke down and crocodile tears streamed down his face. McGonigle expressed distain for Gardner’s actions, but ended with “I forgive you, but I will never forget that you stole my daughter from me.”

During the hour-long proceeding, two videos were played showing Amber and Chelsea in much happier times, Gardner never looked up. It appeared to attendees that if he watched it would mean he was capable of savagely murdering two young girls.

The female jogger, Candice Moncayo, who was attacked in December and threw her elbow to Gardner’s face giving her enough time to run away also spoke about the fact he stole her “safety and solitude of her runs.” She left the podium with a fitting question; “ how’s your nose?”

The King family had the harshest words for Gardner and his mother, who failed to register her son’s address and did nothing to contact authorities in the past 14 months.

Chelsea’s father, Brent, used words like “zest for life, extremely smart and self-assured,” to describe his 17-year-old daughter. He talked about the college letters that have been arriving in the mail for Chelsea and she would never attend. He explained that he never knew he had this kind of rage inside him for another human being.

On the other hand Chelsea’s mom, Kelly, demanded Gardner to look at her while she spoke. “You have taken a life worth an infinite amount of yours.” She told Gardner that he “plundered” from their family and was responsible for “dismantling’ their family life.

Again Kelly repeated; “look at me!” She then said she was not surprised by Gardner’s lack of eye contact. And she too blamed Gardner’s mother for not doing enough to protect the world from her monster of a son.

Amber Dubois’s father, Moe, told the court his daughter was raped and killed by a registered sex offender and he blamed the legal system for letting the murderer roam the streets of Escondido after his parole expired.

According to a victim-impact statement Dubois, says Gardner served a six-year prison sentence for sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl in 2000, but was off parole and roaming freely when he raped and murdered Amber.

Dubois pointed out that once Gardner was off parole, his GPS device was removed and was “once again this predator was allowed to stalk our streets,”

“Less than five months later, John Gardner forcefully abducted, brutally beat, physically raped and then finally heartlessly murdered and discarded our beautiful 14-year-old daughter,” Dubois said.

After a face-to face jail visit with Gardner yesterday, Amber’s mother, Carrie McGonigle, said she found some closure.

Last month McGonigle said she wanted to know the details from Gardner. “I want to know as her mom, but I think the community and law enforcement also has to know, how did this guy get Amber,” she said in April. “How do we protect our kids from someone like him?”

However, Moe Dubois said the missed opportunities to protect the community from Gardner allowed a “monster” to walk the streets looking for vulnerable young girls.

“Now, with our last hope for justice, we depend on the prison community to slowly and painfully cause (Gardner’s) remaining days on this earth to be a living nightmare, and I truly hope he suffers a hundred times the amount of pain he caused our family’s,” Moe Dubois said in his statement to the court. “`He will burn in hell for the acts he committed, I just hope that day is an agonizingly long way away and that he will have to suffer as much as we all have, actually more.”

The 14-year-old Amber Dubois went missing in February 2009. However, her body wasn’t found until two months ago. In an offer of life over death Gardner took authorities to a remote part of Pala where he discarded Amber’s remains.

The murder may have gone unsolved if Gardner was not arrested for the rape and murder of 17-year-old Chelsea King, a Poway High School senior.

Escondido Police Chief, Jim Maher said the Dubois case was just two weeks away from being placed in the cold case department.

King disappeared at the end of February while she went for an after-school run at Rancho Bernardo Community Park. It would be only three days later that Gardner was arraigned for her murder, and that he agreed to lead authorities to Amber’s body in Pala.

Looking ahead Moe Dubois says he is working with lawmakers to develop laws that will help authorities respond more quickly when children are taken. He will unveil details on May 25, coinciding with National Missing Children’s Day. Other ideas in the new program include requiring child predators to have special driver’s licenses.

On a side note, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger directed his administration to take action on recommendations made by the Sex Offender Management Board after a thorough review of the John Albert Gardner case.

Schwarzenegger said he directed the board to review the Gardner case and determine where systematic improvements could be made to protect communities.

The department will award contracts for a pilot program to treat designated sex offenders on parole as part of a containment model strategy and attempt to make more records available to the public, Schwarzenegger said.

As the doors closed on the courtroom, Gardner’s fate was sealed. Trying to make sense of all this seems impossible for outsiders looking in. However, Kelly King’s words echoed in the background; “Come on mom we have to get up, we have important things to do mom, very important.”

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-10317-San-Diego-County-Political-Buzz-Examiner

Chelsea’s Law moves onward with California’s Governor approval

It’s been less than two months since Chelsea King was raped and murdered by a convicted sexual predator, with the dedication of her parents Chelsea’s Law has moved forward in the usually gridlocked Sacramento legislature.

The new law seeks to toughen existing sexual offenders laws by adding mandatory life prison sentences for forcible violent sex crimes against children, tightening sex offenders parole guidelines and adding requirements for the life-long tracking of certain repeat sexual offenders.

Chelsea’s law, Assembly Bill 1844 made it out of the Assembly Public Safety Committee this morning. The bill was penned by San Diego Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher (R-San Diego) has been working closely with the King family since their daughter was tragically murdered in late February.

“Public safety is my number one priority, and I share Assemblyman
Fletcher’s goal of making our communities safer and protecting our kids from
sexual predators,’” Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a statement today.

“It is our job to make sure that we have the right laws in place that
will keep our children safe, and I applaud the Assembly Public Safety Committee
for passing this important legislation today,” he said. “I look forward to
working with Assemblyman Fletcher and the rest of the legislature to make
`Chelsea’s Law’ a reality and create harsher penalties for those that prey on
children.”

John Gardner plead guilty to all charges for the murder of Amber Dubois and Chelsea King on Friday afternoon in a San Diego. In return the sexual predator will not face the death penalty.

The plea agreement states Gardner will get life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Amber Dubois, 14, went missing in February of 2009 and her body was recovered after Chelsea King’s murder took place in March of this year. Gardner was believed to be the killer of the Dubois case after DNA evidence linked the sexual predator to the King murder.

There has been speculation that Gardner was taken out of jail to show investigators the location of Dubois’ body in order to receive life in prison instead of the death penalty. Authorities also report Gardner is the potential perpetrator of other missing girls in Southern California.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-10317-San-Diego-County-Political-Buzz-Examiner

Gardner pleads guilty to murder of 2 San Diego teenagers

John Gardner pleads guilty to all charges for Amber Dubois and Chelsea King murders on Friday afternoon in a San Diego. In return the sexual predator will not face the death penalty.

The plea agreement states Gardner will get life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Amber Dubois, 14, went missing in February of 2009 and her body was recovered after Chelsea King’s murder took place in March of this year. Gardner was believed to be the killer of the Dubois case after DNA evidence linked the sexual predator to the King murder.

There has been speculation that Gardner was taken out of jail to show investigators the location of Dubois’ body in order to receive life in prison instead of the death penalty. Authorities also report Gardner is the potential perpetrator of other missing girls in Southern California.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-10317-San-Diego-County-Political-Buzz-Examiner

Murdered teenager Chelsea King memorial captured national attention

Thousands turned out to celebrate the 17-year-old Chelsea King’s life, blue ribbons fluttered in the wind; thousands of sunflowers sprinkled throughout the audience and a sense of hope swirled around Poway High School’s football stadium.

Saying goodbye is never easy, but the King family did so with the help of family and thousands of community well-wishers all with a kind word about the vibrant and quirky teenager.

Chuck McCully, her uncle, was the first family member to speak about Chelsea at the memorial, “Wow, you’re a community like no other community I’ve ever known.”

When it comes to difficult times Poway tends to pull together and reach out to those in need. When the recent fires gripped San Diego and blazed through Poway, once again the community answered the call with grace and dignity.

Phrases from speakers included, “a Titian through and through,” “faith-tested,” and “with us in spirit” capture the essence that was Chelsea.

One of her High School friends, Anton Walker said, “the metamorphosis of High School is not easy, but Chelsea made it easier.” It was Walker who had lunch with Chelsea – one that would be her last meal.

Another close friend, Katie Chang, quipped that one of the things she loved most about Chelsea was her “feathers of quirkiness.”

“I want to say I’m OK, but I’m not OK, because the best thing in my life has been taken away from me, which was Chelsea,” her brother Tyler said. “Her spirit is so large it defeats death.”

According to one of Chelsea’s teachers, Curt Lewis, she was not afraid to die. A recent paper she wrote after studying Leo Tolstoy and showed she yearned for a noble life- one with real meaning. “I will not live in fear of my own mortality,” the paper read.

“Is it any wonder that the sun came out at just the right moment,” said memorial director Pastor Harry Kuehl of the Church of Rancho Bernardo. “I think Chelsea said, ‘Lord, this would be a good moment.'”

Noticeably shaken, Kelly King spoke to her daughter as though she was there. “I have to remember to breathe each morning…but I hear Chelsea telling me we have important things to do today, mom.”

Chelsea’s mother spoke about the sunrises that Chelsea knew would bring renewed hope and her love of knowledge and the written word. “Evil never conquers over good.”

Sadly, Kelly King spoke about the club they were forced to join, a club no parent wants to be a part of – parents of murdered children.

Taking this one step further was Chelsea’s father, Brent, who referred to his daughter’s killer “as evil, pure evil.”

Making sense of a senseless act is never easy, Brent King explained, but if it weren’t Chelsea that day it would have been another young girl.

Fixing sexual predators isn’t possible according to Brent King. He challenged those who disagree, “Let them live in your neighborhood next to your children. Not ours. This is about protecting our children from evil.”

The raw emotion appeared all over King’s face as he spoke about the litany of emotions and reactions to his daughter’s death he could have evoked. “Because of you,” he said, looking at the attendees, “I chose hope.”

In a final plea to protect our nation’s children, King said to the audience, “Give your time, give your voice, and give your energy to help Chelsea’s light stay bright. I love you angel.”

Then the celebration of life ended with the release of white doves.

Amber Dubois’s parents were also in attendance and shared in the King family pain. There was a moment of silence for Amber and words of condolences from the Poway community. Amber’s memorial will be held in exactly two weeks and the King family is expected to attend the service at Escondido High School.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-10317-San-Diego-County-Political-Buzz-Examiner

San Diego says goodbye to 14-year-old Amber Dubois

San Diego residents once again had to say goodbye to another teenager in less than a week. Tonight Escondido residents, friends and family attended a vigil for slain teenager Amber Dubois at Escondido High School.

Hundreds of tearful students stood in the school quad holding candles and listening to a handful of speakers offer kind words in order to provide some closure in the 13-month saga.

Well-wishers described Amber as a nice and quiet girl who always helped classmates and had an infinite amount of love for animals – especially endangered species. Students remembered her stunning blue eyes and said pictures never did her eyes justice.

Escondido High School Principal, Rich Watkins said the students would wear certain colors each day the rest of the week to honor Amber and Chelsea King (Poway High School, senior who was murdered last week).

“Tomorrow the students will wear red,” Watkins said. “The students will also have a message for police.” The student body will wear orange on Wednesday, green on Thursday and will finish the school week with black.
The school motto “loyal, strong and true” displayed yet another community that wrapped its arms around a young girl, whose life was taken much to soon.

Escondido Chief of Police, Jim Maher, also spoke to the mourners. “You can’t get complete closure, but these events help. The Escondido Police Department is working with the San Diego Sheriff’s Department and the FBI to bring closure to the case and justice for Amber.”

Finally, Amber’s father, Maurice Dubois spoke to the vigil attendees. “We have a moment in life to change a child’s life.” And although Amber is gone, law enforcement asked the Dubois family to let them conduct their thorough investigation.

According to a statement released by Escondido police Lt. Craig Carter, the convicted sex offender charged with the slaying of King remains the focus of the investigation into the slaying of Escondido teenager Amber.
Amber’s skeletal remains were located on Saturday in a rural part of the north county community of Pala. Crews are working around the clock to uncover any evidence to tie Gardner or find the DNA needed to find Amber’s killer.

Amber’s father said this would be the last time the family would speak publically until they have gone through the grieving process and in the not-so-distant future the Dubois and King families would unite to focus on getting tougher sexual-predator laws on the books.

The King family released a statement on Chelsea’s Light facebook page; “We have spoken with the Dubois family and our hearts go out to them in this time of deep sadness. We share their indescribable grief for the loss of Amber’s precious young life.”

Thousands of comments have been made on the social website page. “My husband and I grew up in Poway we are so sorry to hear of your tragic loss. We have been following the story closely. My husband, Charley Hoffman and PGA Tour Player will be wearing an orange ribbon in Chelsea’s honor this week at the Puerto Rico Open. He is asking follow golfers to support Chelsea’s Light as well by wearing a ribbon. Even some of his follow golfers playing at Doral this week have agreed to show their support,” Stacy Vasil Hoffman’s message read.

For Amber Dubois website; http://www.bringhomeamber.com/

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/x-10317-San-Diego-County-Political-Buzz-Examiner

Two dead teenagers leaves San Diego in mourning

Now that the shock of the murder of Chelsea King and Amber Dubois begins to wear off and the justice department begins to build its case against convicted sex offender, John Garner, the family and community will start the process of healing and figuring out who failed the teenagers.

The Escondido and Poway High School students should have been looking in the mailbox to find college acceptance letters that were arriving, instead devastated families must begin the process of picking up the pieces.

There is no question about it Chelsea and Amber were wronged, someone dropped the ball and someone didn’t connect the dots. As the events preceding Amber and Chelsea’s disappearance unfold there is strong evidence pointing to a breakdown in communication in law enforcement.

Law enforcement officers have not missed an opportunity to step out in front of the news cameras all the while offering little to no information about the murders.

News is still developing about another attack in the Rancho Bernardo Park just two months earlier in December. John Gardner also assaulted a 22-year-old female jogger who was visiting from Colorado, according to authorities. 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 down 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 the jogger 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.

Many Poway residents have trouble with the theory Gardner would lie in wait at a secluded part of the Rancho Bernardo Community Park to rob a runner.

San Diego Police saw it differently. “You have to weigh causing panic in the community versus putting information out there,” said Assistant Police Chief Boyd Long, who oversees patrol operations in a San Diego Union Tribune story.

“Hindsight is always 20/20. If we knew today, if we had any idea that the person who did this crime was responsible for other crimes or was going to commit other crimes, we would have put out every effort possible to put him in custody.”

Needless to say, the jogger who was attacked on December 27th could be considered ground zero. Had the police took the attack more seriously, they would have notified the local neighborhood watch program in place in the Rancho Bernardo Community that lines the park.

“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.

A day in court

The defendant’s first day in court went smoothly and lasted less than five minutes. Gardner’s mother or stepfather did not attend the arraignment and it’s been reported they may have fled town to avoid the steady stream of onlookers and angry residents. Gardner’s family home was vandalized during the early hours on Wednesday, the garage door read, and “Chelsea’s blood is on you Move out.”

After the brief court appearance, lead prosecutor and Deputy District Attorney Kristen Spieler held a joint press conference with San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis. The charges Gardner face are murder with a special allegation that occurred during the commission or attempted commission of a rape.
“The special allegation attached to the murder charge makes the defendant eligible for the death penalty,” Spieler explained.

Another mantra the District Attorney repeated during the news conference was “We are not here to try the case in the media, but to try our case in court.” Dumanis explained the case would be handled by the book and considerations needed to be made regarding the crime that “has rocked” San Diego.

Due to the national media attention this case has garnered, prosecutors admitted the case would follow proper protocol and many decisions about the death penalty would be decided with the help of Chelsea’s family.

The charge of rape and murder are significant, but also concerning is the second charge that specifically accuses Gardner of assault with the intent to commit rape in the Dec. 27 attack.
Police or the District Attorney’s office wouldn’t detail the change in the police report taken in December and the addition of the intent to rape charges to Gardner.

News reported by the Associated Press tie Gardner’s DNA directly to Chelsea. According to the California Department of Justice spokesperson Christine Gasparac matching DNA of semen was found on Chelsea’s clothing.

Gardner who was released from prison in 2006 and competed his parole in September 2008, despite an unfavorable psychiatric review by Dr. Matthew Carroll who described the defendant as “a continued danger to underage girls in the community.”

Missing teenager Amber Dubois

Amber Dubois’ parents received the grim news that their daughter who has been missing for 13 months has been found. On Friday night the parents were hopeful their daughter was still alive as the Escondido Police Department searched Kit Carson Park for clues to the missing teenager.

That all ended today as Escondido Police Chief Jim Maher said, “The discovery was made in the early morning hours Saturday in a very rugged and remote area of Pala. Escondido police and Sheriff’s homicide detectives were following a lead in the case when they made the discovery.”

The remains found near the Pala reservation and Pala Casino, were positively identified using Amber’s dental records Saturday afternoon.

Maher, Sheriff Bill Gore and FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Keith Slotter, did not answer any questions at the brief press conference held at the Escondido Police Department. Maher explained the remains were part of an ongoing police investigation and there were three separate agencies working the Amber Dubois and Chelsea cases.

“The entire community, everybody who helped out with the search effort, and above all our huge volunteer corps, they are the most dedicated people and without them we couldn’t have done anything,” said the visibly upset father Maurice Dubois.

When asked if the reward for information leading to Amber’s disappearance would be in play, Sheriff Gore declined to answer leading to more questions as to how the skeletal remains were located.

The local convenience store in Pala, yielded chatter that Amber was most likely found because John Gardner, who is charged with Chelsea King’s rape and murder wanted to get out of the death penalty.

However, the San Diego Union Tribune is reporting that the tip came in the form of a concerned resident. “The entire Chelsea King event emotionally pulled at somebody who had this information,” said Bill Garcia a PI hired by the Dubois family. “They’ve seen the community in a lot of pain. Someone who had been afraid to say something finally came forward.”

A half-hour drive north of Escondido would be Amber’s final resting place. Her skeletal remains were recovered off Pala-Temecula Road in the rocky hillside of a bustling highway located between two casinos.

The Sheriff’s deputies were parked along the highway in nondescript SUVs, but were easy to spot because the officers were standing outside their vehicles. Ask if the crime scene was up or down, they pointed up a mile-long road into a wooded section of the hillside. Once their cover was blown, the Sheriff’s Department called Caltrans to place crime scene tape along the roadside and clear two members of the media.

The Escondido Police Department announced more details would be forthcoming at another press conference tomorrow.

Gardner lived in Escondido for part of 2009 when the teenager went missing. Dubois said he and his family knew that Gardner was a local registered sex offender and watched his apartment for a short period of time after their daughter went missing. Currently there are more than 60,000 sex offenders residing in California.

The national spotlight on Chelsea King renewed efforts by the Escondido Police Department and a recent tip sent authorities to Kit Carson Park in Escondido searching for clues to find Amber, but ultimately found her body 30 minutes north of where she was snatched.

The investigation into Gardner past widened in since Chelsea’s disappearance and authorities have linked him to a December assault and continue to explore whether he had a role in last year’s abduction of Escondido teenager Dubois.

Joined by the FBI, police officials scoured a Kit Carson Park pond and surrounding region to be sure nothing was left to chance. “We didn’t find anything that I would consider to be of evidentiary value at this point,” said police Lt. Craig Carter.

While the Dubois’ are grateful for the renewed effort in their daughter’s case, they are filled with sadness for the King family and both parents continue to wear the orange ribbon for Chelsea.

While the community is alert, authorities and family members of both girls are enlisting the public to step forward with any clues no matter how insignificant they may seem. “Right now our hearts go out to anyone with possible leads to Amber’s location and we are not going to lose hope in finding Amber alive,” they said at a Friday night interview.

Absolutely outrageous DNA backlog

The San Diego Union Tribune has also reported the San Diego Police Department crime lab had rushed to test a DNA swab taken from the elbow of the victim of the December attack this week. “We thought we could get something good on that, but unfortunately not,” Collins said.

Due to a 500 DNA sample backlog the suspect’s DNA sample taken in December was not tested earlier because it was considered an attempted robbery. Authorities say robberies don’t rate very high and rapes and murders take a higher priority for testing. It is worth pointing out that state budget cuts could have added to the delay as many state employees are forced to take furlough days each month.

According to the State Penal Code “the purpose of the DNA and Forensic Identification Database and Data Bank Program is to assist federal, state, and local criminal justice and law enforcement agencies within and outside California in the expeditious and accurate detection and prosecution of individuals responsible for sex offenses and other crimes, the exclusion of suspects who are being investigated for these crimes, and the identification of missing and unidentified persons, particularly abducted children.

Looking back to the December attack in Rancho Bernardo County Park, clues were dismissed and residents were unable to spring into action. Perhaps Chelsea’s death could have been prevented if her parents were aware that it wasn’t safe to jog in the park alone.

Community leaders will now begin the process of looking through the process to ensure proper steps are followed in the future.

Congressman Bilbray spokesperson Fritz Chaleff explained the Congressman, who has two daughters, “was deeply saddened by the news of Chelsea’s murder.”

No one can predict the future, but armed with information, residents can better protect themselves, communicate and ban together.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-10317-San-Diego-County-Political-Buzz-Examiner

Second missing teenager, Amber Dubois, remains recovered in San Diego

Amber Dubois’ parents received the grim news that their daughter who has been missing for 13 months has been found. On Friday night the parents were hopeful their daughter was still alive as the Escondido Police Department searched Kit Carson Park for clues to the missing teenager.

That all ended today as Escondido Police Chief Jim Maher said, “The discovery was made in the early morning hours Saturday in a very rugged and remote area of Pala. Escondido police and Sheriff’s homicide detectives were following a lead in the case when they made the discovery.”

The remains found near the Pala reservation and Pala Casino, were positively identified using Amber’s dental records Saturday afternoon.

Maher, Sheriff Bill Gore and FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Keith Slotter, did not answer any questions at the brief press conference held at the Escondido Police Department. Maher explained the remains were part of an ongoing police investigation and there were three separate agencies working the Amber Dubois and Chelsea cases.

“The entire community, everybody who helped out with the search effort, and above all our huge volunteer corps, they are the most dedicated people and without them we couldn’t have done anything,” said the visibly upset father Moe Dubois.

When asked if the reward for information leading to Amber’s disappearance would be in play, Sheriff Gore declined to answer leading to more questions as to how the skeletal remains were located.

The local convenience store in Pala, yielded chatter that Amber was most likely found because John Gardner, who is charged with Chelsea King’s rape and murder wanted to get out of the death penalty.

However, the San Diego Union Tribune is reporting that the tip came in the form of a concerned resident. “The entire Chelsea King event emotionally pulled at somebody who had this information,” said Bill Garcia a PI hired by the Dubois family. “They’ve seen the community in a lot of pain. Someone who had been afraid to say something finally came forward.”

A half-hour drive north of Escondido would be Amber’s final resting place. Her skeletal remains were recovered off Pala-Temecula Road in the rocky hillside of a bustling highway located between two casinos.

The Sheriff’s deputies were parked along the highway in nondescript SUVs, but were easy to spot because the officers were standing outside their vehicles. Ask if the crime scene was up or down, they pointed up a mile-long road into a wooded section of the hillside. Once their cover was blown, the Sheriff’s Department called Caltrans to place crime scene tape along the roadside and clear two members of the media.

The Escondido Police Department announced more details would be forthcoming at another press conference tomorrow.

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-10317-San-Diego-County-Political-Buzz-Examiner

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