Chelsea King (PICTURES): Thousands Mourn Death of 17-Year-Old

Chelsea King
AP Photo
Chelsea King
Chelsea King (Credit: AP Photo)
POWAY, Calif. (CBS/AP) Dozens of doves were let go at the end of the nearly two-hour service Saturday to honor 17-year-old Chelsea King, whose body was discovered in a shallow, lakeside grave.

PICTURES: Chelsea King Missing
PICTURES: Chelsea King Vigil, Family Mourns

"I want to say I'm OK, but I'm not OK because the best thing in my life has been taken away from me," said Tyler King, Chelsea's younger brother.

Thousands of teachers, classmates and neighbors filled a high school stadium, as family and friends told the crowd of Chelsea's big dreams, terrific sense of humor, sense of style, athleticism and thirst for knowledge.

Chelsea's family was profusely thankful for the massive search for her after she went missing Feb. 25 on a run at a San Diego park, as well as for the outpouring of sympathy after her body was found five days later.

Speakers said Chelsea's heinous death galvanized people to prevent other children from falling victim to predators. A moment of silence was held for Amber Dubois, whose bones were found a last week north of San Diego more than a year after she went missing while walking to school.

"I will channel my rage and commit to spending my life to making our society safe from the incurable evil," he said to applause. "Known sexual predators are not curable ... If anyone - anyone - believes that this evil is treatable, let them live next door to you and your children, not ours."

John Gardner, 30, has pleaded not guilty to Chelsea's murder and attempted rape of another woman in December. He is also a suspect but has not been charged in the killing of Amber Dubois.

Gardner served five years of a six-year sentence for molesting a 13-year-old neighbor in 2000. He was on parole for three years, until September 2008.

Brent King, Chelsea's father, said his daughter's attacker would have picked another victim if she had chosen another park to go running on the afternoon she vanished.

Kelly King, Chelsea's mother, said she draws inspiration by imagining a conversation in which her daughter urges her to stay focused on "very important things to do." She acknowledged Amber Dubois' parents, who attended the ceremony.

"We, as parents, have been thrown into a club no one wishes to be a part of," she said.

Chelsea was a straight-A student at Poway High School ran on the cross-country team, played French horn in the San Diego Youth Symphony and was active in her school's peer counseling program. She was a tireless volunteer in school and community activities, whether working at a prom for special education students or packaging food for needy families in Africa.

She had applied to 11 colleges and aspired to a career that would combine her interests in writing and the environment.

The invitation-only ceremony was held under heavy security. The family also held a service for about 150 people on Friday.

PICTURES: Chelsea King Missing
PICTURES: Chelsea King Vigil, Family Mourns

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