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Participants gather on shores of Lake Hodges to "Finish Chelsea's Run"

SAN DIEGO - Hundreds of people have gathered on the shores of Lake Hodges this morning to symbolically complete the final act that slain Poway High School senior Chelsea King set out to do -- take a jog in a scenic park.

''Finish Chelsea's Run'' is intended as a show of devotion to the memory of the 17-year-old straight-A student and a way for the community to ''take back'' the open-space area where she was allegedly raped and killed.

Beginning at 7 a.m., participants met near the lake and in the parking lot of Westfield North County mall on Via Rancho Parkway to catch shuttles to the site of the 3-mile run/walk, which was scheduled to begin two hours later. Pets on leashes and children are aslo welcome, according to organizers.

Searchers found Chelsea's body in a shallow grave along a tributary of Lake Hodges on March 2, five days after the cross-country running team member went missing during a running outing in Rancho Bernardo Community Park.

A registered sex offender has been charged with raping and murdering her and could face the death penalty if convicted. John Albert Gardner III, 30, also stands accused of attacking another young 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 vanished while walking to school in February 2009.

The high school freshman's skeletal remains were found on a hillside in the Pala area four days after Chelsea's body was found.

 

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