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Friends remember Amber Dubois as police seek possible link to Chelsea King murder suspect

A candlelight service is scheduled Monday night for a missing girl whose remains were found over the weekend in San Diego County, and authorities were looking for possible links between that case and a man charged in the slaying of 17-year-old Chelsea King.

Amber-dubois-lead Amber Dubois, who disappeared last year on her way to school, was identified through dental records after police found her remains Saturday in rugged terrain near Pala. Police had refocused attention on the Dubois case after a registered sex offender was arrested last week in connection with the suspected murder of Chelsea King, a high school senior from nearby Poway.

The suspect, John Albert Gardner III, lived a couple of miles from where Dubois vanished near Escondido High School. Escondido Police Chief Jim Maher did not disclose whether Gardner, who is being held without bail, is linked to the case. He said an unspecified lead led investigators to the remains.

Bill Garcia, a private investigator hired by the Dubois family, told the San Diego Union-Tribune that the tip leading authorities to Dubois' body did not come from Gardner. 

Dubois was last seen walking to school at about 7:10 a.m. Feb. 13, 2009, carrying a $200 check to purchase a lamb for her 4-H Club project. The girl's family worked relentlessly to keep the investigation alive. They hired private investigators, raised thousands of dollars to distribute fliers, organized a walk-a-thon and put up a website, bringamberhome.com.

Police spent thousands of hours chasing leads, and Dubois' face appeared on the cover of People magazine. Last summer, the family hired search dogs that traced her scent to the Pala library, but no witnesses were found, according to local media reports. FBI bloodhounds later found no trace of her there.

No other solid leads emerged until Gardner's arrest. He is accused of murdering Chelsea King, who went missing during a jog at Lake Hodges on Feb. 25. Authorities discovered a shallow grave a few days later that was believed to contain the 17-year-old's body. Authorities have not made a positive identification, but said there's a strong likelihood that the remains are King's.

Dubois' father, Maurice, helped in the search for King and was told by police that Gardner was being investigated in connection with his daughter's case.

Maurice Dubois, 40, of Buena Vista expressed mixed feelings at the time, wanting closure but hoping that a "monster" like Gardner wasn't linked to his daughter's case. "I'm living a nightmare. I keep trying to wake up out of it, but it's not happening," he said last week.

On Sunday, he told reporters he was grateful for the work of investigators: “They are the most dedicated people we could have imagined. That’s all we wanted to say.”

Amber Dubois, a freckled, blue-eyed girl, was described by family and friends as a bookish, sheltered teenager who loved animals. "Amber is a smart and beautiful young lady; she gets good grades, is not into boys, makeup, MySpace or anything like that. Amber is content as long as she has a good book to read," her mother, Carrie McGonigle, wrote on the website.

Gardner's arrest has angered some residents and victims-rights advocates who say laws designed to protect communities from sex offenders have largely failed.

Gardner in 2000 pleaded guilty to molesting and assaulting a 13-year-old girl. Though a psychiatrist recommended that he be given a maximum term of at least 10 years, prosecutors recommended a six-year sentence.

He served five years of the sentence and wore a global positioning system device until his parole ended in 2008. As required by Megan's Law, he registered his residence. He lived in Escondido before moving to Lake Elsinore last year, but authorities said he spent time on weekends at his mother's home in Rancho Bernardo, near Lake Hodges.

Gardner's preliminary hearing is scheduled for next week.

The candlelight vigil is scheduled for Escondido High School on Monday night.

-- Richard Marosi in San Diego, Julie Cart in Los Angeles

Upper photo: Sobbing, Jade Fidel, 5, right, turns away from a memorial to her friend Amber Dubois and hugs her father, Jeff Fidel. The family brought flowers, balloons and a candle to a sidewalk memorial in front of Escondido High School.  Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

Lower photo: Amber Dubois. Credit: Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (23)

My heart goes out to the families of both Amber and Chelsea. I went to Escondido High School and walked the same route to school everyday.Now as a parent I cant imagine the nightmare these families are having to endure because our justice system has failed them and many other families. These MONSTERS should never be out to walk free to hurt innocent children again. They should serve mandatory life sentences just like the victims and their families will.

I wonder if the tip came from the guy she was allegedly seen walking with? It sounds like there was more than one person involved. Anyway, rest in peace Amber Dubois, justice will be served.

God bless Amber's family. Keep them strong. We need everyone to be strong and pass laws against the animals that keep doing this to peoples children! They should never be allowed to walk again....or live if you ask me!

Wow, all of a sudden a tip or a lead surfaces, and the body of a young girl, who most likely suffer a gruesome death, is found. I don't think I'd give two cents to the investigators who handled the case, evidently they didn't investigate hard enough, because, a year later another young girl is murdered and somebody leaks a lead and the body of a girl missing for over a year is found. My recommendation is to bring a handful of Taliban militants from Afghanistan to America and let them hanlde the cases of Gardner and the so called 'tipster'; I bet a swift and just punishment would satisy the American people. Gardner is a sick individual, he can can not be changed. A person of this nature, one who goes around preying on young women and then killing them, does not deserve to live. Our society is weak, America is no longer America. I'm sad to say, America died years ago, when we allowed ourselves the right to continue making new rights.

So tragic are the events of our children being killed by other children, parents and strangers. People, listen up. We all have to live in this world we have created. Filled with murderers, child molesters and all forms of criminals. As parents it has to be our first priority to keep our children safe. If we dont, we have failed them as a parent. Allowing them to walk anywhere alone is just not realistic any more, sad but true. I live in the so called, safest city in CA yet I would never think of having my child walk to school or anywhere alone ever when I know of the dangers. No excuses. Drive them, make arrangements for them to walk with other children or parents so that they are never alone. We must never allow them to be alone where harm will come to them. We must also educate our children on why they can never be alone so they understand the dangers as well. The risk is just too high. This seems to be the only answer as we are surrounded by criminals every day and we are all aware of this fact and it will never change. BE SAFE!

These monsters should be placed on a raft and floated out to sea after their first conviction.

my heart and prayers are with these families.

these monsters need to be taken away from society.death penalty is the only cure.if we had harsher punishments these crimes wouldnt be so frequent. 5 years for assult and rape of a child. now we have at least two dead girls.this is unacceptable.

If Gardner didn't confess (my first thought), then someone else must have known where the body was. That's also a terrible thought.

It is a sad day for the family to learn of the loss of a beatiful child. A monster like him should not come out jail.It should be first strike no more chances at freedom.

Convicted sex offenders should be castrated and serve their full sentence.

What kind of society releases these low lifes back into the community to prey again?

My heart goes out to these two young girls' families and friends.
I believe that a sex offender should NEVER be allowed to walk out of prison. In my opinion, they deserve the death penalty.
It is incredibly disturbing to me to understand these type of behaviors. Yes, he must have some serious mental issues; thus, should have never left jail.
The system failed these two girls and their families.

Hi, my name is brianna and i am 14 i am so sorry for what has happened. Now i see were my mom is coming from when she always doesnt want me to do alot my mom hates when i go and do things by myself or go out i am so sorry for your loss and i wish you guys luck in your life and i hope you have a god one i take this story in a big way. Now when my mom tells me how she feels about me going out i will think about this and how hurt she would be if this happened to me sorry about everything.

My heart aches for the families of both of these girls. No girl should have to go through what these victims did and no parent should lose their daughter this way.

We need to out these perverts and make sure that their neighbors know about them. There should have been a warning posted at the park where a prior assault had occurred. These types of warning should be required.

There is no cure for this behavior. Lock them up forever and keep them away from our children.

any sexual/violent crime against a child should be an automatic life sentence. its pathetic that our justice system cares more about these monsters than children

I graduated from Escondido High back in '70 and used to walk the two miles to school until I got my car. It was a different world then. My two nieces, classmates of Amber, are devastated, knowing it could have been any one of them. May the monster who committed these crimes get exactly what is coming to him, the death penalty. RIP Amber, Chelsea. It may be a sin, but right now, "an eye for an eye" is the only justice I can accept.

My heart goes out to the mother and father, friends and family of Amber at this difficult time!

RIP in peace beautiful Amber!

Where were the police busting some harmless pot smoker shame on them.

If Gardner did it, DA must have taken death penalty off the table to get killer to talk. DA's shouldn't have to do this but parents need to give their daughter a proper burial. Gardner should wind up in general population--maybe, he'll get prison justice.

Castration! That's the only way to settle this. For get human rights for these animals. They take their victims rights. Castration! Louisiana has it, let's get in California, and for repeat life in prison or death row. Castration! Castration!

My Dear Co-Worker And Dear Friend Moe !

I am so sorry, you know that I don't know what to say as we have talked so much about our feelings. You know that I am so blessed that I was able to meet Amber may the Lord be with Amber and your family. JuJu's heart breaks for you and Carrie. I Love You Moe. Always JuJu

'On Sunday, he told reporters he was grateful for the work of investigators: “They are the most dedicated people we could have imagined. That’s all we wanted to say.”'

Interesting story telling. Mr. Dubois may or may not have thanked the investigators, but for sure his statement “They are the most dedicated people we could have imagined." referred not to the police but to the thousands of private volunteers that stood by Amber's family and searched for her all these months. Here is the press conference where he thanked the volunteers:


Why is it so difficult for the L. A. Times to acknowledge the efforts of plain citizens?

Jane Velez Mitchell is doing a great job telling this story everynight on "Issues" --Headline News channel

This man should have never been released from jail. He is a monster who needs to stay in jail for life. Otherwise other teenagers and childeren will end up like Chelsea King and Amber Dubois and other people in this world who have been kidnapped. Prosecutors need to realize this, he has an illness that cannot be treated. He can't help it murdering these girls. He wont stop until he is locked up for good. 5-10 years wont do anything. Infact all sex offenders and every person who assults or does anything to hurt someone should be locked up until the realize and at least have sympathy and wont do the same thing over and over. We loose population this way.


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