TODAY

TODAY   |  March 04, 2010

Is alleged killer tied to other missing teens?

Police in San Diego are trying to link the suspect in the Chelsea King murder case to the disappearance of Amber Dubois. Amber’s father, Maurice Dubois, speaks with TODAY’s Meredith Vieira.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> one who knows what happens.

>>> let's begin with new developments in the case of murdered teenager chelsea king. john gardner has been charged with his murder. and we'll talk to the father of another missing teen in the area who feels his daughter may also be a victim of gardner 's. first, nbc's janet shamlian is in san diego with the latest. janet, good morning to you.

>> reporter: meredith , good morning. you could barely move in the hallway outside the courtroom where the arraignment was held yesterday. the courtroom seats about 100, but twice as many classmates of chelsea king showed up, they say to look her accused killer in the eye. in shackles with his eyes focused on the floor, john gardner stood before a courtroom filled with chelsea king's family and friends and pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and attempted rape . chelsea 's devastated mom and dad were there to face their daughter's alleged killer.

>> the special allegation attached to the murder does make the defendant eligible for the death penalty .

>> reporter: with angry residents holding signs outside the courthouse, the district attorney acknowledged the toll chelsea 's death has taken.

>> this has rocked san diego . it has rocked all of us. and as we move forward, we need to move forward and wrap our arms around this family.

>> reporter: the community's simmering anger overflowed with spray-paint. vandals wrote on the garage of gardner 's parents, " chelsea 's blood is on you. move out."

>> they do have chelsea 's blood on their hands, to allow this individual in this neighborhood, because that's the house, from what i hear, where it's happened before .

>> reporter: the home is a short distance from the park where chelsea went missing last thursday. when she didn't return home from an after-school job, her father went looking, finding her car but not his daughter. over four days, thousands of volunteers combed the park's foliage-lined trails. the teen's body was found in a shallow grave tuesday. the second charge against gardner , assault with intent to commit rape, relates to a december attack in the same park, and likely means prosecutors will have a witness. the victim in that attack recognized gardner 's picture after he was connected to chelsea 's case. gardner is not charged in the disappearance of 14-year-old amber dubois , who vanished last year close to where gardner lived with his mother.

>> the fact that that's in place in this case could help prosecutors, could be a major bargaining chip, causing this defendant, gardner to give information as to the whereabouts of amber dubois .

>> he's a monster that we don't want a connection to. so, we're hoping that this extra exposure will help someone out there locate our daughter for us.

>> reporter: for one family, still a glimmer of hope, while another struggles with its grief. and it's grief beyond the king family . emotions are still very raw out here. people are both sad and angry, as that act of vandalism at the gardner house yesterday so clearly illustrates. meredith , back to you.

>> janet shamlian , thank you very much. maurice dubois 's daughter, amber , has been missing since february 13th of last year. mr. dubois , good morning to you and thank you for joining us, on what has to be an extremely emotional time in your life.

>> yes. good morning, meredith .

>> i know that you were at the hearing yesterday for john gardner . why did you feel the need to be there? and what was your reaction when you looked at him? what were you thinking?

>> well, first of all, i'd like to express our whole family's condolences out to the king family . and we really wanted to show our support for the entire king family and to be there for chelsea . we also don't know if there is any link between mr. gardner and amber , so, if there is, i want to be there for every moment of his trial.

>> when you first realized that mr. gardner had been arrested in connection with what was then on sunday the disappearance of chelsea king, what was your immediate reaction? had you heard his name before?

>> it didn't strike us right away, but we did do a list of sexual predators in the area of escondido, where amber went missing, at the time that amber went missing, and we did find his name on that list, so yeah, he was one of our initial targets as far as sexual predators in the area to be looked at, but as far as when we first heard it, it was sickening to us, you know.

>> yeah.

>> it just brought it all right back to home.

>> yeah. at the time that amber did go missing, do you know if the police followed up on that and actually talked to mr. gardner ?

>> they have -- escondido pd had informed us that they had one officer who's in charge of all of the 290s, or all of the sexual predators in the area, and it was that officer's responsibility to interview all of them.

>> mr. dubois , do you believe that he could have something to do with the disappearance of your daughter?

>> we're hoping not. we're really hoping not. seeing as what this monster is capable of, we don't want any connection to amber , but the eerie similarities of the cases, both girls were 5'5", both were 130 pounds, both white, both beautiful girls . the locations between the two, less than 7 1/ 2 miles between the two incidences. so, yeah, in the back of our head, we are kind of concerned that there is a connection.

>> i know that you've said that you remain hopeful that you will find your daughter. you've had the support of so many friends and family, many strangers who have looked day after day for her and followed any leads that are possible. what is a typical day like for you since your daughter disappeared?

>> oh, it's a nightmare that you just want to end, you know? you think -- you think that there's going to be a silver lining at the end of this, but every day just seems to drag on longer and longer.

>> i know you remain hopeful, though, that you will find her. if she is out there, what would you like to say to her, to your daughter, amber ?

>> oh, yeah. we're constantly going to remain hopeful, and amber , if you can hear me, sweetheart, please keep in mind that your family loves you so much. stay strong, stay faithful and please believe that we are going to find you one day. we'll have you back home with us.

>> maurice dubois , i can't thank you enough for joining us this morning. i know how difficult this is for you, but you want to keep that message out there in the hopes that anyone with any information will present it to the police. so, thank you again for being here.

>> well, thank you very much, meredith .

>> and again, if you have any information on the disappearance of amber dubois , who was 14 at the time of her disappearance, you can call an anonymous tipline. the number is 760-743-8477. again, that is 760-743-8477. or logon to the website bringamberhome.com.

>>> now let's switch gears and