John Albert Gardner’s unindicted accessories in the murder of Chelsea King

Up to this point, John Albert Gardner, charged in the murder and attempted rape of Chelsea King, has been repeatedly described in the media as a “registered sex offender.” What that means, and what it meant in practice, we were not told. There was a reference to “lude and lascivious behavior” with a child but no specifics. In this March 3 AP story we finally learn the facts of Gardner’s background. In 2000 he was convicted of luring a 13 year old girl from his neighborhood into his house to watch a TV program and assaulting her. The girl escaped, running from his house with her pants down. Despite a psychiatrist’s report that Gardner was completely unrepentant and the psychiatrist’s urgent recommendation that Gardner be sentenced to the full term of 11 years for the crime (though the story fails to identify what crime he was charged with), he was sentenced to six years and released after five. He completed three years of probation in 2008.

Everyone knows that child molesters and rapists remain a danger to society for as long as they live. Child molesters and rapists have themselves said this. Therefore, once a person has committed a crime like this, there are only three possible sentences that will protect society: execution, castration, or life in prison. Since the first two are probably out of the question in modern society, the only possible practical recourse is life in prison. A criminal justice system that deliberately frees rapists and child molesters such as John Albert Gardner is automatically dooming future victims to rape and murder. Yet our society is shocked, shocked, when convicted sex criminals who have been released into society strike again.

The famous Megan’s Law is a band-aide. It allows for the public dissemination of information about a released sex criminal. It does not prevent the sex criminal from being released. Gardner was a “registered sex offender”—presumably a reference to his status under California’s version of Megan’s Law. What did his status as a registered sex offender do to keep him from murdering Chelsea King?

Sex offender charged in Chelsea King case

People attend a candlelight vigil held at St. Michael’s Catholic Church for missing teenager Chelsea King…

By ELLIOT SPAGAT, Associated Press Writer—Wed Mar 3, 6:39 pm ET

SAN DIEGO—A 30-year-old convicted sex offender was charged Wednesday with murdering and raping or attempting to rape 17-year-old Chelsea King, who disappeared last week after heading out for a run in a park.

John Albert Gardner III stood in court in shackles with his eyes cast downward, showing no emotion, as an attorney waived arraignment and a reading of the complaint and entered pleas of not guilty in the potential death penalty case.

San Diego County prosecutors charged Gardner with one count of murder with a special circumstance allegation that the crime occurred in the commission of rape or attempted rape.

A second count of assault with intent to commit rape was filed in connection with a December attack on another female….

Early Wednesday a spray-painted message was found on the garage at the home of the suspect’s mother. It said, “Chelseas blood is on you. Move out.” Police did not know who painted it.

Gardner lived at the Rancho Bernardo home in 2000 when he molested a 13-year-old neighbor. The home is down the street from an elementary school and near the park where King was last seen Thursday wearing running clothes….

Gardner pleaded guilty in May 2000 to molesting the 13-year-old female neighbor and served five years of a six-year prison term. Prosecutors said he lured the victim to his home with an offer to watch “Patch Adams,” a 1998 movie starring Robin Williams.

The girl was beaten before escaping and running to a neighbor.

Gardner “never expressed one scintilla of remorse for his attack upon the victim” despite overwhelming evidence, prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo.

He had faced a maximum of nearly 11 years in prison under terms of a plea agreement, but prosecutors urged six years. [LA notes: the reporter doesn’t actually tell us what was the crime for which Gardner was convicted. Was it assault? Rape? What?]

Dr. Matthew Carroll, a psychiatrist who interviewed Gardner, had urged “the maximum sentence allowed by law.” He said in court documents that Gardner was a “continued danger to underage girls in the community” and an “extremely poor candidate” for treatment.

Dr. Mark Kalish, who shares an office with Carroll, said his colleague was saddened and angered by the news about Gardner, feeling his advice was ignored.

“He didn’t want there to be any ambiguity or doubt about his assessment. He laid it out there and he was essentially ignored by the district attorney’s office,” Kalish said. “How much bigger a red flag could Dr. Carroll have raised?”

Kalish said Carroll was referring calls to him because his colleague, who does work for the county, did not want to discuss the case publicly.

Carroll, a court-appointed psychiatrist, reached his conclusion because Gardner took no responsibility, despite evidence, described in the prosecution sentencing memorandum, of the girl’s frantic escape.

“How are you going to treat someone who says you got the wrong guy?” Kalish said. “This girl ran out of (his) house with her pants down. Come on!”

The district attorney’s office has declined to comment on the 2000 case.

Gardner was on parole for three years, until September 2008, state records show.

San Diego police said Gardner also was linked to an assault on a 22-year-old Colorado woman who managed to fend off her attacker on Dec. 27 in Rancho Bernardo Community Park on the northern edge of San Diego, where King’s 1994 BMW was found with her belongings inside. The second count against Gardner alleges the assault occurred on Dec. 27 but did not specify if it was the incident with the Colorado woman.

San Diego police Capt. Jim Collins declined to describe the evidence connecting Gardner to the December assault but said a swab taken from the victim’s elbow did not match Gardner’s DNA.

[end of AP story.]

A Los Angeles Times story, “Among the gated homes, anger and fear over Chelsea King’s killing,” has a lot of the usual clueless sorrow and sadness, except for this one spot of light:

Outside the downtown San Diego courthouse where Gardner was arraigned, protesters held up signs: “Castrate rapists.” “Chelsea’s Law: One Strike.” “No parole for molesters.”

The people participating in that demonsration have an understanding of reality. All the other people in this sad saga—notwithstanding their tears, their fears, their candlelight vigils—are passive or active collaborators in the process that allowed a convicted sex criminal to live at liberty and murder Chelsea King.

- end of initial entry -

Just as I was in the act of posting this entry, this comment came in from James N. in which he expresses almost the exact same thoughts that I expressed.

James N. writes

I have five daughters, as you know. I was traveling with them and missed the chance to comment on the earlier Chelsea King threads.

I agree with most of your vile sycophants that parents must raise their daughters with an appropriate reality frame. This is a challenge, given the female empowerment culture (which really is an advertising culture, the primary object is empowerment to consume)—but being a father has never been easy.

The practice of allowing sex offenders free rein to live among us and to reoffend, however, is not within the purview of parental authority (unless it is extended to killing your daughter’s attacker). This is a serious problem, and it arises because the criminal justice model is not really suited to offender management.

A man like Gardner has a defective mind, almost reptilian in character. He smolders 24 hours a day, seven days a week, waiting for another man’s daughter to cross his path. There are many examples of this pattern, not all of them in the national news. A few years ago, an 11 year old girl in Florida was abducted in broad daylight walking home from school, raped and murdered by a man with ELEVEN priors, most involving unprovoked violent attacks against women. His very first arrest was for knocking a women previously unknown to him over the head and dragging her into the woods to rape her. She got away, so he got probation.

Violent predators are a problem IN prison, as well as outside. In prison, they rape and kill other inmates, injure and kill guards, and consume enormous resources devoted to prevention of what they will do at the slightest opportunity.

Violent predators are instantly recognizable by anyone with a shred of clinical judgment. They are very different from most prisoners. They cannot be “cured” by medicine, they cannot be deterred by threats of imprisonment (prison being not uncongenial to them), and when they are released the death of someone’s daughter is a certainty. A certainty.

My preferred solution is to kill them as soon as their predilection is revealed by a single criminal conviction. Unprovoked violent assault on a stranger is sufficient grounds for death, in my view. I recognize that society may not have advanced along the path of civilization sufficiently to allow this.

At a minimum, offenders who fit the pattern must be isolated, permanently, from society. It should be possible to construct a secure, geographically isolated (an island), location where they could live, grow food, and deal with each other as they see fit.

When the State of California released Gardner, knowing him as they did, they sentenced Chelsea King to death. THAT, her family couldn’t prevent.

LA replies:

Except that her family did not tell her that there are dangerous predators at large in society. Her family did not prohibit her from going about in a large park which has been described as wilderness-like.

Laura Wood writes:

The facts of Gardner’s previous conviction were reported on Monday by the San Diego press. One of the articles you previously linked either included that information or was on a page with articles that did. Also, the facts of the recent assault on a young woman in the same area of the park where Chelsea was murdered were reported on Monday. That to me is one of the most stunning details. All the police had to do was put a notice up at the entrances of the park saying that a woman had been attacked, along with a police drawing of the suspect. Surely, Chelsea would not have run there.

James N. writes:

You wrote:

“Except that her family did not tell her that there are dangerous predators at large in society. ”

You may want to revise the comment. I don’t think we know what they told her. We know what SOME, perhaps MOST liberal families in a liberal state like California do—and, after reading their comments, it’s not an unreasonable hypothesis.

But soul-rending anxiety and grief makes many things bubble to the surface. We DON’T know what her father said to her about the dangers of this world. Let’s leave him in peace.

LA replies:

We do know more or less what her parents told her, because they told us, in a TV interview, which I quoted here.

Brent King said:

“We would never allow her to run by herself. But she’s a 17-year old girl, If she chose to run by herself on that day, she didn’t do it because her parents said go ahead and run by yourself.”

Kelly King then said:

“When you’re that age, you feel invincible. Bad things aren’t going to happen to you.”

“We would never allow her to run by herself. But she’s a 17-year old girl.” What this means is that they did not say to her, “You may run by yourself.” But it also means that they didn’t positively tell her not to run by herself. If they had positively told her not to run by herself, they would have said so. Similarly, if they had told her about specific dangers, they would have said so. Obviously they are bothered by the fact that she was running alone and that they did nothing to stop it, so they resort to the cliche that they couldn’t do anything to stop it, because she was 17 and when you’re 17 you believe in your invincibility. Since they have some concern with showing that they are not responsible for what had happened, I conclude that if it were the case they had specifically told her about dangers, they would have mentioned that.

(But possibly not: if they had specifically told her not to run alone, and she specifically disobeyed them, they might not have wanted to say that, as that would be blaming her for what happened.)

Frankly I don’t think it’s within the scope of people like the Kings to say to their daughter something like,

“Honey, there are dangerous people out there, young girls are at risk in this society from rapists and killers, you have to be careful and alert wherever you go, and most of all you should never be alone in an isolated place.”

That would be too specific, and would counteract the ideal world they lived in.

Also, the NBC San Diego story that quotes the interview says this:

Her parents say she was not a risk taker and would not wander from the trails. They say she preferred to run alone, which they frowned upon.

This is not a direct quote from the part of the TV interview that I found, and perhaps it reflects a reporter’s inaccurate characterization of what they said. But if it reflects accurately what they said, then Chelsea was in the habit of running alone (“she preferred to run alone”), and her parents knew this, and didn’t stop it.

Of course it’s possible that they said more that’s not shown in the interview. I googled phrases from the interview and came up with only three results: an MSNBC story similar to the NBC story I link above; my own article quoting it, and a blogger, a resident of Poway who describes the vigil/memorial service. When I was reading it, I thought: when a pioneer family had children killed by Indians, that was devastating to them. but they didn’t act as though this was some big shock. They knew they were living in a dangerous world. These people in Poway don’t know that they are living in a dangerous world. Or rather they can’t allow themselves to acknowledge that it’s a dangerous world, because then they would have to account for the fact that they live in a society that lets violent sex criminals wander about at liberty; and they would have to do something about that, such as insisting that sex criminals be locked up for life, such as being much more restrictive on the comings and goings of their daughters. So instead we have these repeated Eloi-like manifestations, in which the Eloi young are delivered into the jaws of the Morlocks, and the Eloi community is “shocked” at the death of the young Eloi and start wearing T shirts and tying ribbons around trees and holding candlelight vigils, until the next Eloi is killed and the cycle repeats itself.

LA continues:

Here’s another reason why nice white people don’t want to think about the reality of crime. Violent crime in our society is overwhelmingly by blacks and Hispanics. Therefore to think about crime is to think about black and Hispanic criminals, which is “racist.” To avoid being “racist,” nice white people avoid thinking about violent crime in general. And therefore they also avoid thinking about the specific dangers that confront their children.

Mark Jaws writes:

It speaks volumes about the misplaced priorities of our society when the leftwing media and complicit police authorities provide the public no warning in the aftermath of an attempted rape in a park, but broadcast nationwide a noose in a university library.

Amelia writes:

I’ll bet this would not qualify as a Hate Crime—just an ordinary crime.

James P. writes:

You ask,

“Another young woman, 23 years old, had fended off an attempted rape by the same suspect on the same running trail a few weeks ago, by elbowing him in the face as he shook her and running away when he let go. Were public warnings put out that a rapist was in that park looking for victims?”

There was a story in the local paper back in December about an attack in that park. That’s all the “public warning” there was. Apparently he might have attempted to abduct a girl in Lake Elsinore, north of Rancho Bernardo, where he lived back in October, but I doubt this would have reached the attention of anyone in Rancho Bernardo.

You write:

“The famous Megan’s Law is a band-aide. It allows for the public dissemination of information about a released sex criminal.”

You have to go looking for Megan’s Law information about your neighbors; it is not pushed forward to you. His neighbors in Escondido had no idea that a vicious predator lived in their apartment complex until one of them found out about it online: “April Henry, manager at Rock Springs East, would not comment about Gardner or whether tenants at the complex were informed about Gardner’s history as a sex offender. The neighbor who lived above him said she found out about Gardner’s history online and notified a neighbor with children. That written notice was later copied and circulated by some tenants, she said.”

Also worth noting, from this story:

Chelsea’s cousin, Stephanie Dorian, said Monday that her family was devastated, but “doing OK given the circumstances.”

She described Chelsea as a budding environmental activist and a vegetarian who loved running in nature without headphones.

Her parents forbade her from running alone, but doing so Thursday was perhaps the most disobedient thing the well-read, college-bound girl had ever done, Dorian said.

Oy vey, the closest thing we have to a saint in this day and age is a vegetarian, environmental activist who loves to jog. As a practical matter, it is hard to see how the parents could have enforced their rule against running alone, since she had a car.

David B. writes:

The general public has been under the impression that registered sex offenders are under some sort of supervision. They are not.

Gardner was sentenced to 11 years and was paroled after serving 5. [LA replies: I think he was sentenced to six, out of a maximum possible of 11.] This is normal and I assume his attorney plea bargained this sentence. The public see in the press that a criminal defendant was given a long prison sentence. What people don’t realize is that the defendant will not serve even half of the sentence before being paroled.

An example is Lemaricus Davidson, the ringleader of the Knoxville Atrocity, which has been discussed extensively at VFR. Davidson robbed a convenience store in West Tennessee and carjacked someone when leaving the store. He pled to a 10 or 11 year sentence in 2001 and was paroled after 5 years in 2006. Davidson then moved to Knoxville and sold dope in between armed robberies. In January 2007 he carried out the Christian-Newsom torture-murders.

A reader writes:

One tidbit of information I don’t think I’ve seen in your posts is the issue of where this guy was registered as a sex offender. I heard this on the radio yesterday. Apparently he was registered in Lake Elsinore, but he lived at least part of the time with his parents near Lake Hodges. This would explain the delay or failure in connecting the dots vis-a-vis the 22 year old woman he attacked who got away in the same area as Chelsea King. As someone else said, registered does not mean supervised.

There is no perfect system, but I think chemical castration makes a lot of sense. This would reflect a genuine desire to protect our innocents humanely. Yet this would be a form of discriminatory oppression we are prohibited from indulging, while we can afford, it seems, to bear this senseless and violent loss of life on a regular basis. The media make it clear that we are defenseless no matter how much we spend on police, the courts and the prisons. But the State is not to blame. We are to blame for not doing the job the State is incapable of doing, the only one we can do to begin with.

Ferg writes:

One thing no one has commented on that to me was an immediate red flag or at least sign. The stories all mention that this seventeen year old girl not only had her own “car” to use as she liked, but that car was a “BMW”. To me, having lived in the area for six or more years it spoke volumes. Everything about this family and this girl is “Oh So California”. She is a very cute girl, outdoorsie, she does the “Right” things, (running out doors in wilderness areas), she has the “Right” attitudes, she has the “Right” kind of car, she lives in the “Right” kind of area, it is all just overwhelmingly “Oh So California”. And “Oh So Liberal”. All the community displays of “support”, “confidence in Chelsea”, and all the public grieving, the statements about how “she wanted to change the world”, the disbelief that something like this could happen to a girl so self confident and independent. All very familiar and expected to me as a happily EX Californian.

LA replies:


Ferg replies:

Been practicing. :-)

Rick U. writes:

The reader writes:

“There is no perfect system, but I think chemical castration makes a lot of sense. This would reflect a genuine desire to protect our innocents humanely.”

Yes, there is no perfect system, but the whole premise of “treating them humanely” is the fog of liberalism. It’s like a “humane” war effort, can’t be done without endangering the soldiers. Besides, there is no Constitutional requirement to be “humane” as well there should not be, and why there isn’t. We have lost our way because of this liberal hogwash. I have no interest in treating criminals with any compassion whatsoever, nor should any of us if we desire to live in a just society. The only consideration should be to apprehend, convict, and imprison these people within the rule of law, nothing else. And, if the situation merits it, execute them forthwith. To hell with humane treatment, I say more executions of these animals is warranted. Since, executions aren’t likely to happen anytime soon, could we at least stop giving them second chances?

LA replies:

Well, let’s remember that the U.S. Constitution—and that’s the original Constitution, not the re-written 20th century Constitution—prohibits “cruel and unusual punishments.”

Posted by Lawrence Auster at March 04, 2010 07:41 AM | Send

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