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Sex offender will be charged in Chelsea King’s disappearance, San Diego County D.A.’s office says

March 2, 2010 |  2:34 pm

John Albert Gardner III will be charged in connection with the disappearance of 17-year-old Chelsea King at an arraignment hearing scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, the San Diego County district attorney's office said. 

Authorities also announced that Gardner, a registered sex offender, has been linked to an attack in December of another young female jogger in the same park where King was last seen.

Spokesman Paul Levikow of the district attorney's office said specific charges have yet to be announced. Gardner is being held on suspicion of murder and rape.

Hundreds of law enforcement authorities and volunteers continued searching for clues Tuesday in the hilly terrain around Lake Hodges where King, a high school senior, had gone jogging Thursday afternoon.

King's mother, in a television news interview Monday, said authorities found her daughter's underwear in the lake area. Gardener was arrested outside a Mexican restaurant in the lakeside community of Del Dios. His pants were damp, according to San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore.

In the December incident, a 22-year-old woman was approached by a man who tackled her and demanded money. She escaped after hitting him in the face, bloodying her elbow. San Diego police did not disclose how they linked Gardner to the attack. San Diego Police Capt. Jim Collins said DNA testing of the victim did not turn up a match to Gardner.

Gardner, 30, is registered as a sex offender and lives in Lake Elsinore in Riverside County, but he had been visiting his mother in Rancho Bernardo, just south of Lake Hodges, officials said.

Gardner served five years in connection with a 2000 attack on a 13-year-old girl, officials said. After getting out of prison, he wore a global positioning system tracking device until his parole ended in 2008, Gore said.

-- Richard Marosi in San Diego