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Remains likely those of missing California teen, sheriff says

Chelsea King, a 17-year-old senior, was last seen Thursday. Police believe they've found her remains.
Chelsea King, a 17-year-old senior, was last seen Thursday. Police believe they've found her remains.
  • Hundreds gather for a candlelight vigil to honor teen girl missing since Thursday
  • Human remains found in shallow grave in park where Chelsea King was known to run
  • King, 17, was last seen at school; her car, with cell phone inside, was found at park
  • John Albert Gardner III, 30, is being held on rape and first-degree murder charges

(CNN) -- Hundreds of people gathered Tuesday night for a candlelight vigil outside a San Diego, California, church in honor of a teenage girl missing since Thursday.

The vigil was held just hours after authorities said they found human remains in an area where they had been searching for 17-year-old Chelsea King.

"There is strong likelihood that we have found Chelsea," San Diego County Sheriff William Gore said at a news conference.

The remains were found in a shallow grave along the shoreline of a tributary south of a lake in Rancho Bernardo Community Park, authorities said.

Searchers have been combing the edge of Lake Hodges for any clue into the disappearance of King, a cross-country runner who often ran along the park's trails.

The last reported sighting of the high school senior was at school Thursday, according to sheriff's department spokeswoman Susan Plese. Her car, with her cell phone inside, was found at the park, Plese said.

Police arrested 30-year-old John Albert Gardner III on Sunday in connection with the disappearance.

Video: Remains may be of missing teen
Video: Body found may be Calif. teen
Video: Teen vanishes, lake searched

Gardner is being held in the San Diego Central Jail on rape and first-degree murder charges, according to jail records available online Tuesday night.

Gardner is due to appear in court later Wednesday.

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Gore said the body was found in a heavily wooded area not visible from nearby homes. A shoe had been found earlier in the same area.

He said King's parents have been informed of the discovery.

"They were holding out hope as we all were that we would find Chelsea alive," he said. "This is our worst fears that we would find her as we did today."

At Tuesday night's vigil, friends and family were expected to speak about King and play some of her favorite songs.

Gore said he expected to have positive identification of the body by Wednesday.

Gardner, a registered sex offender, is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday, according to San Diego County district attorney's spokesman Steve Walker.