Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A letter to the editor and tragedy here in San Diego

My wife and I had the privilege of meeting a remarkable young lady this past weekend. Her name is Chelsea King, the Poway High senior who went missing on Thursday. While unfortunately the meeting was not face-to-face, nonetheless we grew to learn all about her as we participated as volunteers in Chelsea’s search-and-rescue efforts.

We learned that throughout her 17 years, Chelsea has managed to touch the lives of countless people – so much so that the procession of volunteers who have been showing up at the search center in Rancho Bernardo numbers in the thousands. People, who despite often ultra-challenging search conditions, never complain and simply long for a chance to do something – anything – that might help.

We found out that Chelsea’s friends and schoolmates are extraordinary and delightful, reflecting highly on their families as well as their school.
We confirmed that Poway, Rancho Bernardo, Scripps Ranch and the greater San Diego communities are replete with individuals of deep compassion and unrelenting concern for one another.

We further discovered that Kelly and Brent King are extremely loving and strong parents beyond words – a couple that continue to display their undeterred strength with grace, poise and faith.

But over these last several days, there was no greater lesson learned than this: Chelsea’s family, friends and community need her home. Clearly, the world is a much better place with her in it.

Scripps Ranch

On Tuesday afternoon, what is believed to be the body of Chelsea King was found in a shallow grave near Lake Hodges just north of San Diego.

Chelsea, a high schooler at nearby Poway High, had been missing since Friday after not returning home from a run at the park surrounding the lake and which resulted in the largest missing persons search effort in San Diego’s history as 1,500 people participated both Saturday and Sunday with many continuing the search on Monday and Tuesday.

There is a registered sex offender, John Albert Gardner III, in custody on suspicion of rape and murder in Chelsea’s disappearance.

It is our prayer that Chelsea will no longer feel the pain and abandonment that she experienced in the last moments of her life and that she is experiencing the limitless expanse of the Almighty's compassion, grace and love. Our prayers also to her parents and to the rest of her family and friends.

As for this Gardner creature, we’ll let the wheels of justice turn at its own pace. If he is found guilty, we believe the death penalty to be too honorable a fate and permanent incarceration far too expensive. For savages like Gardner and other rapists and murderers of his ilk, we propose a Devil’s Island-type existence.

Since they have refused to live by societal norms and mores, we will grant them their wish and they can all have it out Lord of the Flies-style in some remote tropical outpost with the Prison bureau dropping food onto the island from time to time because to not do so would probably be decried as inhumane.