Woman describes encounter with Gardner at RB park - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Woman describes encounter with Gardner at RB park

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RANCHO BERNARDO, Calif. (CBS 8) - John Albert Gardner may have returned to the scene of the crime hours before he was arrested on Sunday. That's according to a new witness who's talking to News 8.

Becky Sangha's chilling account of coming face to face with Chelsea King's accused killer started as she drove into the park. She spotted an inebriated man stumbling up an embankment, who later accosted her along a trail.

"To realize you were that close to someone that evil is something that doesn't sit well inside you," Sangha said.

The Escondido resident was finishing a Sunday afternoon walk along the trail bordering Lake Hodges with her five-year-old daughter and four dogs when she came face to face with Chelsea King's alleged killer.

"I heard the crackling in the bushes first," she said.

She says the man appeared drunk and was dressed in a red shirt and black pants, wet from the waist down as if he'd just come out of the lake. He started to advance toward Sangha and her family.

"His body was kind of forward and he was walking very quickly and directly toward us. It made me uncomfortable. I got alarmed," she said.

The man came as close as 10 or 15 feet as Sangha gathered her daughter and dogs and hurried away, she said.

"I kept eye contact with him the whole time. He finally sat down, but he kept watching us," she said."I don't know what his intentions were that day."

But her instincts were confirmed that night when she saw on the news that John Gardner had been arrested for Chelsea King's murder.

"I jumped out of bed and I said that's the guy, that is the guy who made me feel so uncomfortable. That's him," she said.

Sangha contacted authorities, and on Monday took search teams to the locations she'd spotted Gardner. The next day Chelsea's body was discovered near the lake in a shallow grave.

"It made me feel sick, especially having my daughter with me that day. My gut reaction was to get her out of bed and keep her close to me," Sangha said.

Authorities told Sangha she did two things that could potentially have saved her life - the fact she made and maintained eye contact and that that she was accompanied by her dogs.

Sangha says she's dedicated to making public parks safe for everybody to enjoy.

As part of the effort to raise awareness about park safety, a special event called "Finish Chelsea's Run - Take Back the Parks" is scheduled at Lake Hodges on Saturday, March 20 at 9 a.m.

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