The mother of murdered Escondido teenager Amber Dubois addressed the media Wednesday about the bizarre circumstances surrounding her discovery of the body of missing nursing student Michelle Le.
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Carrie McGonigle remembers the pain of loss after she learned Amber was murdered.
During a Wednesday press conference, she described finding the remains of another family's missing daughter and the hidden strength she never knew she had.
"I have a tremendous amount of sadness, not only reliving my own tragedy but also for the Le family," said McGonigle.
McGonigle had gone to Alameda County in the Bay Area to assist in the search for Le, a nursing student who disappeared in late May. McGonigle was about 300 yards from another set of searchers when her dog, Amber, took off running, stopped and came back.
"She jumped up on my chest and turned around and darted in the same direction," said McGonigle.
The dog, named in memory of Amber Dubois, stopped alongside a dirt trail in the rugged hills near an Alameda County park.
"Upon approaching, her I refastened her lead and noticed what could possibly be some sort of remains. I praised Amber and returned to the group and alerted the officer on the scene," McGonigle said.
McGonigle had only recently begun training the year-old yellow Labrador retriever so she was surprised that the dog alerted her.
"Amber is going to start now doing cadaver training so she will train in both trailing and cadaver work," she said.
McGonigle didn't know until later that it was the remains of Le that Amber had found.
"It hit me later that evening that it could possibly be her remains. So Sunday I went to church and the sermon of the day was 'Is your life going on the correct path?'" said McGonigle. "I was still pretty upset, but not as upset as I
I actually thought it would break me completely down and I wouldn't be able to search anymore."
McGonigle knows first-hand the agony of not knowing.
"To go 13 months like we did without having any remains, without even knowing if Amber was alive or not
I'm glad they have some kind of closure," said McGonigle.
McGonigle has only one explanation as to why she was the only person to find Le's body: "I know now that God, my daughter Amber and Michelle needed me. This is my job; this is what I'm supposed to do with my life. It's a great pleasure to be able to serve another family and bring some kind of closure. I feel it's made me a stronger person. It's just fulfilling."
Giselle Esteban was arrested in connection with Le's death.
Amber's killer, John Gardner, is serving a life sentence in prison.
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