Juan Ignacio Blanco  


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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Kidnapping - Rape
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: February 13, 2009 / February 25, 2010
Date of arrest: February 28, 2010
Date of birth: April 9, 1979
Victims profile: Amber Dubois, 14 / Chelsea King, 17
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife / Strangulation
Location: San Diego County, California, USA
Status: Sentenced to two terms of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, one term of 25 years to life imprisonment, and an additional 24 years of imprisonment on May 14, 2010

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Plea of guilty/no contest


John Albert Gardner III (born April 9, 1979) is an American convicted double murderer and sex offender. He confessed to the rape and murder of 14-year-old Amber Dubois from Escondido, California, the February 2010 rape and murder of 17-year-old Chelsea King from Poway, California, not far from Gardner's mother's home, where he lived, in the Rancho Bernardo community.

Additionally, Gardner attempted to rape Candice Moncayo of San Diego County, and had been previously incarcerated for the molestation of a 13-year-old girl.

Prior conviction

Gardner had been convicted in 2000 of molesting a 13-year-old female neighbor. He spent five years in prison and completed his parole in 2008, although it was determined that he had violated the terms of his parole seven times, including living too close to a school in 2007. Gardner was also investigated by his parole officer for possession of marijuana, though this incident was later dismissed. He was also being tracked by a GPS anklet up until 4 months before the murder of Amber. He was too close to schools, in front of a daycare at one point, and also on prison grounds dropping off a friend according to the GPS data.


Gardner's first murder victim was 14-year-old Amber Dubois, who disappeared in February 2009. Her skeletal remains were later recovered by police in March 2010, after the police had questioned Gardner about her murder. Gardner had been arrested on February 28, 2010, in the Del Dios district of Escondido, California, when his DNA matched discarded clothing from Chelsea King, a senior from nearby Poway High School.

King had disappeared on February 25, 2010, while she was jogging in the early evening at the Rancho Bernardo Community Park, near Lake Hodges. FBI divers found her body five days later (on March 2, 2010) buried in a shallow grave on the southeast corner of the lake's inlet, where some of her clothes had been found.

DNA evidence from King's clothing, along with a December 2009 attempted attack on a female jogger who managed to fight him off, led Escondido and San Diego police to patrol the area for a man fitting Gardner's description. He was arrested on February 28 at a bar and restaurant in Del Dios, at the western shore of Lake Hodges in Escondido. A witness has indicated that Gardner returned to the park subsequent to King's disappearance.

Guilty pleas

On April 16, 2010, Gardner pleaded guilty to the murder and rape of both Dubois (who disappeared on February 13, 2009, and whose skeletal remains were found on the grounds of the Pala, California Indian Reservation on March 6, 2010) and King, after prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty.

He admitted to kidnapping, raping, and stabbing Dubois. He also admitted dragging King to a remote area where he raped and strangled her, and then buried the body. In addition, Gardner pleaded guilty to attempting to rape Candice Moncayo in December 2009.

Sentencing was set for June 1, 2010, although it took place on May 14, where Gardner was sentenced to two terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole. The parents of Amber and Chelsea, and the surviving victim Candice Moncayo, made impact statements prior to sentencing describing the impact Gardner's crimes had on their lives, and their determination to see to it that "Chelsea's Law"–signed into California state law by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on September 9, 2010–was passed to help prevent similar crimes in the future.

During the trial, the Kings retained Michael Fell, a California criminal lawyer and former prosecutor, who specializes in representing victims under Marsy's Law, the state constitutional amendment that guarantees legal rights for victims of crime. Fell successfully prevented sensitive crime scene and autopsy photos from being released to the public.


On May 14, 2010, Judge David Danielsen sentenced Gardner to two terms of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, one term of 25 years to life imprisonment, and an additional 24 years of imprisonment.


Sex offender John Albert Gardner III sentenced to life in prison

He was spared the death penalty as part of a deal for pleading guilty to murdering Chelsea King and Amber Dubois during rape attempts

By Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times

May 15, 2010

Amid anguished and angry comments from the parents of his victims, registered sex offender John Albert Gardner III was formally sentenced Friday to life in prison without the chance of parole for the murder and rape of two teenage girls in northern San Diego County.

The families of Amber Dubois, 14, and Chelsea King, 17, spoke in court of the bright, hopeful, innocent lives that were violently destroyed by Gardner and of how their broken bodies were discarded like trash.

The courtroom in San Diego County Superior Court was packed with family members, investigators and reporters — many of whom had tears in their eyes.

Dubois' family showed a video of their daughter, accompanied by recorded music, and described her as a loving teenager who enjoyed reading and "was kind beyond measure" and "not about the mall or being self-involved." The day she disappeared, she was carrying money to buy a lamb for a 4-H project.

King's family spoke of their daughter as a perfect child, an honor student at Poway High School destined for college and a career helping others. A video was shown with comments from her school friends about their loss and their memories of her laugh and selflessness.

Gardner, shackled and with armed sheriff's deputies standing near him, kept his head down during the family statements and wept. He looked up only briefly when King's mother, Kelly, twice demanded, "Look at me," and waited for his response.

Gardner, 31, pleaded guilty last month to murdering the teens, both during rape attempts. He admitted strangling King and stabbing Dubois. As part of a plea bargain, he was spared the death penalty.

"There are not enough words to describe the agony my family has gone through minute by minute" since her daughter's abduction, said Dubois' mother, Carrie McGonigle.

King's father, Brent, said she "looked for the good in everyone. I'm not sure she could comprehend the pure evil that sits before us.…I am filled with a rage that I didn't know I possessed."

Dubois disappeared in February 2009 while walking to class at Escondido High School. King vanished a year later while jogging near Lake Hodges. A pair of panties found on the jogging path two days later led investigators to Gardner, whose DNA was in a state database after his five-year prison sentence for attacking a 13-year-old girl.

After his arrest in the King slaying, Gardner admitted killing Dubois and led investigators to her remains northeast of Escondido. In a television interview while in jail, Gardner said he was seized by an uncontrollable rage and could not stop when he began attacking the two victims. He blamed a life full of disappointment and maltreatment.

"I hate myself, I really do," Gardner told KFMB-TV Channel 8. "There is no taking back what I did, and if I could, yes, I would. But I was out of control. If I was able to stop myself in the middle of it, I would have, and I could not. I was out of control."

Both families have called for changes in how the criminal justice system treats sex offenders. The King family, with the backing of a state legislator and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, has called for a "Chelsea's Law" that would give life sentences to sex offenders who attack minors, and also require a lifetime of GPS monitoring for sex criminals.

Dubois' parents have criticized the system for letting Gardner out of prison early and for not putting him back behind bars when he was found to be violating his parole, among other things, by living close to a school.

King's father called Gardner "a monster and an animal." Dubois' father, Maurice, said Gardner was an animal-like "predator" who should never have been let loose.

Brent King said he hoped that Gardner, after his death, "goes to the deepest level of hell as described in the classics as 'a burning lake of blood.' "

He also criticized Gardner's mother, a psychiatric nurse, for not turning her son in to authorities after Dubois disappeared.

Candice Moncayo, 22, a jogger whom Gardner attempted to abduct just weeks before King was killed, said she still has nightmares about his attack.

"I have spent countless hours terrified and nauseated like a scared rabbit," she said, her voice breaking. "I came here to stand as witness for Chelsea and Amber."



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