Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

"Finish Chelsea's Run" to be held Saturday

SAN DIEGO - Hundreds of runners are expected to flock to Rancho Bernardo Community Park this weekend to symbolically complete the jog that slain Poway teen Chelsea King never got to finish.

The 17-year-old's body was found in a shallow grave alongside a tributary of Lake Hodges on March 2, five days after she went missing during an after-school run. A registered sex offender has been charged with sexually assaulting and murdering the straight-A student.

Beginning at 7 a.m. Saturday, runners will meet in the parking lot of Westfield North County on Via Rancho Parkway to catch shuttles to the northern San Diego park. A three-mile run/walk over trails near the lake is scheduled to begin two hours later.

The memorial event is being set up via a Facebook page titled ''Finish Chelsea's Run.'' Pets on leashes and children are welcome, according to organizers.

This week, Sheriff Bill Gore publicly acknowledged for the first time that the body found by searchers near Lake Hodges was that of the Poway High School senior, who vanished Feb. 25. Gore, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and other officials involved in the case had previously refused to provide the confirmation, even after charging John Albert Gardner III, 30, with murdering the teen.

Last weekend, an overflow crowd of more than 6,000 people packed Poway High School's football stadium for a memorial honoring Chelsea.

Gardner could face the death penalty if convicted of killing the teen, who was a member of the San Diego Youth Symphony and Poway High's cross-country team. A preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for early August.

The defendant is also charged with attacking a young female jogger in the same park in late December. In that earlier incident, the 22-year-old victim escaped after elbowing her attacker in the face.

In addition, investigators have described Gardner as a ''focal point'' of their investigation into the apparent murder of 14-year-old Amber Dubois of Escondido, who went missing while walking to school in February 2009. The high school freshman's remains were discovered on a remote hillside in the Pala area two weekends ago.

 

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