Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Disappearance and Murder of 17-Year-Old Chelsea King

Lake Hodges

The piece of clothing found on the shoreline of Lake Hodges was not immediately identified publicly by the police, but it was quickly confirmed as Chelsea's. Chelsea's mother, however, told reporters shortly after its discovery that the article was Chelsea's underwear. The underwear was immediately sent to a state crime lab where a top-priority search for foreign DNA could be conducted. If DNA other than Chelsea's was found, it would be processed through national criminal DNA databases to see if a match could be found.

Map with Lake Hodges locator
Map with Lake Hodges locator
In the meantime, the Los Angeles office of the FBI brought sonar equipment to the site for their divers to use in searching the lake's shoreline, with much of their attention to be centered on the area where the underwear had been found. Using all available resources, authorities also employed a helicopter equipped with infrared technology, a remote-controlled drone aircraft, as well as an underwater robot to take photos at the bottom of the lake. Searchers on horseback continued their efforts on land, while other searchers on foot used tracking dogs.

"She wants to be found," Brent King told a group of volunteers. "She didn't go missing by choice."

As the search for Chelsea continued in the multi-faceted investigation, it was soon announced that a DNA match to a known sex-offender had been made as a result of the priority processing of Chelsea's underwear. According to authorities, the DNA match resulted from analysis of semen found on Chelsea's undergarment. John Albert Gardner III, 30, was identified as the suspectprivately, at first, among the law enforcement communitybelieved responsible for Chelsea's disappearance.

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