Remains likely those of missing California teen, sheriff says

Human remains found Tuesday in San Diego, California, are likely those of a teenage girl missing since Thursday, the San Diego County sheriff said.

The remains were found in a shallow grave along a tributary south of a lake in Rancho Bernardo Community Park, authorities said. Searchers have been combing the edge of Lake Hodges for clues into the disappearance of 17-year-old Chelsea King, who often ran along the park’s trails.

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“There is strong likelihood that we have found Chelsea,” Sheriff William Gore said at a news conference.

The last reported sighting of the high school senior was at school Thursday, according to sheriff’s department spokeswoman Susan Plese. Her car, with her cell phone inside, was found at the park, Plese said.

Police arrested John Albert Gardner III, 30, on Sunday in connection with the disappearance. He is being held in the San Diego Central Jail on suspicion of rape and murder, according to jail records.

Gore said the body was found in a heavily wooded area not visible from nearby homes. A shoe had been found earlier in the same area.

He said King‘s parents have been informed of the discovery.

“They were holding out hope, as we all were, that we would find Chelsea alive,” he said. “This is our worst fears that we would find her as we did today.”

Gore said he expected to have positive identification of the body by Wednesday.

Gardner, a registered sex offender, is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday, according to San Diego County district attorney’s spokesman Steve Walker.

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