Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Killer In Our Midst: The John Albert Gardner Story

Crime writers choose the stories we write. Some stories, however, find us. In many cases, it’s the locality of the crime that catches our interest. In other cases, it’s the circumstances. I’m a native San Diegan, so when a high-profile crime happens there, my interest is piqued.

Such was the case with the separate -- but related – grisly tales of the kidnaps, rapes and murders of California teenagers Chelsea King in 2010 and Amber DuBois in 2009. The crimes against these girls were more than disturbing, not to mention particularly sad: two bright, happy teenage girls, with their promising futures in front of them, killed in cold blood under senseless, frightening circumstances.

Their assailant was a disturbed young man -- a sexual predator -- named John Albert Gardner III, who had previously been charged with sexual assault. But Gardner slipped through the cracks, evading notice by authorities, including his probation officer, and left to his own devices to attack again. But, this time, the results were deadly, breaking the hearts of the girls’ families and friends.

California law requires sex offenders to register where they live, not where they go, and, in Gardner’s case, he moved between a couple of counties in San Diego County, dodging registration requirements and evading authorities.

Then, Amber disappeared first, nine months before Chelsea. DNA evidence left at the scene of Chelsea's murder led police to Gardner, who lived with his mother not far from the wooded park where he stalked at least two girls, including Chelsea as she went for an afternoon jog.

It was Chelsea King’s murder that prompted police to dig deeper, at the urgency of Amber’s parents. But it was Gardner, in a successful attempt to save himself, in exchange for prosecutors to not seek the death penalty against him, who led police to Amber’s body.

I began reporting on the Gardner investigation soon after Chelsea's disappearance. Now, I’ve turned the cases into a “true crime short,” which I’ve just released on Kindle, via Amazon.com, and on NOOK, on barnesandnoble.com. The advent of eBooks allows authors to tell victims’ stories without a lot of pomp and circumstance, no book release parties, no book signings, and with a shorter turn-around time to get them in print, albeit electronically.

Thus, I am announcing, on Women in Crime Ink, the eBook release of this true crime short, which I've titled A Killer In Our Midst. It tells the story of John Albert Gardner III, his troubled early years, how he evaded arrest, and the girls he preyed upon.

A Killer In Our Midst is available online at Kindle Book Store and NOOK Books .


A Voice of Sanity said...

"Take, for example, Leandro Andrade.

His last offense was stealing $153 worth of videotapes from Kmart stores in San Bernardino.

Andrade had had his run-ins with the law. He was a drug addict, and he had committed some residential burglaries years before. So when he stole those videos, it was a third strike, which could mean 25 years to life in prison.

But because Andrade grabbed the videos from two different Kmarts, he was prosecuted for two third strikes. As a result Andrade was sentenced to life in prison with no parole for 50 years.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which agreed that a sentence of 50 years to life for shoplifting was cruel and unusual punishment.

But the Supreme Court overturned that ruling on a 5-to-4 vote. The majority found that Andrade's sentence was not disproportionate because there was still the possibility of parole — though he won't be eligible until he's 87 years old."

Yet Gardner served just 5 years for a violent assault on a 13 yr old girl and his multiple subsequent violations of parole were ignored.

So K-Mart's video tapes were more important than the safety of a young girl - and the public.

Yeah, that all makes sense - NOT!

Cathy Scott said...

Agreed -- something terribly inequitable about that.

Anonymous said...

And because of these murders, the laws have changed.

piper said...

Thank you Cathy. I just purchased the Nook ebook.