ESCONDIDO, Calif. – Police drained a pond in a park north of San Diego on Friday in their efforts to find a girl who vanished about a year ago in the same region where 17-year-old Chelsea King disappeared last week.
Investigators located a bag near the pond in Kit Carson Park that three children reported finding in May — three months after Amber Dubois, 14, vanished while walking to school, Escondido police Lt. Craig Carter said. The children told their parents the bag contained what looked like human hair, but the parents didn’t think it significant at the time.
Carter said the bag doesn’t appear to be connected to the Dubois case, but an FBI evidence response team will analyze the contents.
Carter said other bags also were found Friday and the contents of those will be analyzed as well. He said investigators will continue searching for evidence on Saturday after the pond is drained.
King’s disappearance and the discovery of a body in a grave in another park near Escondido drew a huge public outcry and renewed interest in Amber’s case.
Authorities said there is a strong likelihood the body found by Lake Hodges is that of King, but an official identification won’t be made immediately.
Convicted sex offender John Albert Gardner III has pleaded not guilty to murdering King during a rape or attempted rape. He also was charged with assaulting a woman in December with intent to rape.
King, a student at Poway High School, was last seen alive Feb. 25. Her car was found at Rancho Bernardo Community Park.
Gardner, 30, pleaded guilty in 2000 to molesting a neighbor girl in Rancho Bernardo. He was registered as a sex offender living about 55 miles away in Lake Elsinore in Riverside County. His mother has a home in Rancho Bernardo.
Escondido, Rancho Bernardo and Poway are neighboring communities in San Diego County.
In Lake Elsinore, authorities are looking into a report in October that a 16-year-old girl fled from a man who tried to force her into a car at gunpoint. A sketch of the suspect appears similar to Gardner.