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Search continues in San Diego County for missing 17-year-old girl

March 1, 2010 |  8:47 am

Lat.missing
San Diego County investigators continued their search Monday for a missing 17-year-old girl after a man was arrested in connection with her disappearance.

John Albert Gardner III, 30, was arrested Sunday afternoon outside a business in Escondido after investigators uncovered evidence linking the registered sex offender to the disappearance of Chelsea King from the Lake Hodges area, authorities said in a statement.

“During the search the last three days we have obtained numerous pieces of physical evidence in the search scene,” San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said Monday in an interview with ABC's “Good Morning America.” “One of those pieces of evidence we were able to tie to John Gardner.”

Gardner, of Lake Elsinore, was convicted in a previous incident of one count of lewd acts with a child under 14, according to state records.

King disappeared Thursday after failing to return from an afternoon run near Lake Hodges, investigators said. Helicopters scoured the area and volunteers waded chest-deep in the murky water looking for signs of the Poway High School senior.

Friends set up a Facebook page and website to help the search effort. The case is being handled by homicide investigators.

-- Amina Khan

Photos: Searchers examine a backpack discovered along a creek near Lake Hodges in Escondido. Credit: Don Bartletti/Los Angeles Times. Photo of Gardner. Credit: San Diego County Sheriff's Department.

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