Missing California teen's body believed found

March 2, 2010 8:29:22 PM PST
The search for a missing teenager who grew up in Naperville ended in Southern California. A body found in a shallow grave Tuesday afternoon is believed to be that of 17-year-old Chelsea King.

She disappeared Thursday after going for a run in a San Diego park.

On Sunday, police arrested a registered sex offender on suspicion of rape and murder. But until Tuesday there was hope King may be found alive.

Chelsea king's loved ones lit candles on Tuesday night in San Diego in honor of the teenager who moved there from Naperville three years ago. They held a vigil to celebrate the life of the honors student who vanished last Thursday from a wooded park where she often went jogging.

For days, hundreds of volunteers and law enforcement officers had fanned out across the Lake Hodges area searching for the 17-year old by foot, air and boat. Tuesday afternoon police found human remains in a shallow grave at the water's edge.

"Although positive identification has not been made, there is a strong likelihood that we've found Chelsea," said Sheriff Bill Gore, San Diego County. "The body was found in an area not far from where we had previously discovered a piece of evidence, a shoe."

Registered sex offender John Albert Gardner was arrested on Sunday in connection with King's disappearance. Police say physical evidence led them to Gardner. Investigators suspect he may be linked to other crimes including the sex assault of another jogger in December in the same park.

King's friends in Naperville gathered Tuesday night to grieve and share stories about the teenager's life.

"She was always very positive. She always looked at the good parts of life, she never looked down at life," said Alex Nowell, King Family friend.

"Chelsea was just a wonderful girl that touched everybody's heart that she ever met. She really was just a beautiful brilliant, funny, loyal, wonderful young lady," said Rich Nowell, King Family friend.

Gardner is expected to be charged Wednesday afternoon in connection with King's disappearance.