Preparations Under Way For Chelsea King Memorial

Memorial To Be Held Saturday At Poway High School

Anticipating large crowds of mourners and well-wishers, the family of slain Poway High senior Chelsea King announced Wednesday that they are issuing priority-seating passes to her relatives, close friends and former classmates planning to attend a weekend memorial at the school.

Community interest in the scheduled Saturday afternoon event "has exceeded anyone's expectation and grows each day," King family spokeswoman Sara Muller Fraunces said.

Chelsea, a 17-year-old straight-A student and avid cross-country runner, disappeared Feb. 25 after going for a jog at Rancho Bernardo Community Park. Searchers found her body five days later in a shallow grave alongside a tributary leading to Lake Hodges.

Registered sex offender John Albert Gardner III is charged with killing the teen. Gardner, 30, faces a sentencing-enhancing allegation of murder during the commission of a rape or attempted rape, meaning he could be condemned to death if convicted.

Due to the size of Poway High's student body and the number of friends Chelsea had, the King family anticipates that pass-holders attending this weekend's memorial may fill the school sports arena to capacity, leaving the rest of the well-wishers without seats.

"Therefore, we are working closely with officials from (the school), Poway Unified School District, the Sheriff's Department, other law enforcement agencies and scores of San Diego businesses donating their services to meet the event's needs," Fraunces said.

It was not immediately clear how any overflow crowds would be handled.

Kelly and Brent King issued the following statement regarding the planned remembrance ceremony in honor of their daughter:

"It is our wish to hold Chelsea's memorial celebration at Poway High School, where she spent almost four years developing special relationships with students and faculty. Because the Poway High School stadium has limited capacity, it has become necessary to issue passes to ensure that Chelsea's friends, family and the Poway High School community are able to share in her celebration first-hand.

"We never anticipated that so many people would want to honor Chelsea in this way, and very much wish we could accommodate every single person. We apologize in advance if that turns out not to be the case. Thank you for your understanding and support."