On Thursday, five days ago, Chelsea King, a 17-year-old girl went missing in my community. Thousands of volunteers searched for her in the remote area where she liked to run on the winding hiking trails. Today her body was discovered in a shallow grave and a suspect, a registered child molester, was taken into custody.

By all accounts this pretty high school girl was popular, athletic, intelligent, motivated, and a talented musician who came from a loving home.

The suspect, in his 30 worthless years of life, accomplished nothing but bringing misery, pain, and ultimately death to others. Chelsea, his last victim, although very young, was already a highly respected and valuable member of society, everything he isn’t.

Her family, of course, is experiencing a devastating lifelong sadness I cannot even begin to imagine, a desperate aching that will, unfortunately, never completely heal.

On a secondary level, people who never met Chelsea are hurting too. I am one. There are many reasons why the pain is so universal, each reason relating privately to every one of us in San Diego who held out hope and then ultimately hung his head and cried.

I’m not completely sure why I am so sad over this case and why I cried, and am now at this very moment, as I type, tearing up. I suppose it relates to my being the father of a daughter who just two months ago became a 13-year-old teenager and my terrible understanding that nowhere is safe.

I am fearful—I am afraid, afraid for my daughter and afraid for all the girls who exist as potential victims for nomadic and sedentary predators.

I don’t want to be afraid anymore, and I don’t want our society’s children to be afraid either. Our prisons are full of nonviolent drug offenders serving full sentences while violent offenders are copping pleas and being given reduced sentences.

When is enough, enough? How many more children have to die until someone says, “This has to stop”? I don’t want this to remain, as it has for too long, just a rhetorical question that will soon be forgotten.

I have been closely watching the local, as well as the national, news broadcasts relating to the Chelsea King case since it first began airing. When Chelsea first went missing, thousands of people throughout the county volunteered their time to search for her and to staple up and hand out fliers that declared her disappearance, which only speaks volumes about Chelsea, her family, our city, and the volunteers themselves.

After Chelsea’s body was discovered, thousands of mourners gathered at a Poway church to participate in a candlelight procession to honor her short but meaningful life.

Chelsea’s mother, Kelly, and her father, Brent, with great sadness and with greater courage and quiet compassion, have spoken to the media. They are wonderful people. I have never met them, but their noble resolve to see justice done throughout this agonizing ordeal is nothing less than admirable.

If this had happened to my daughter, I know I would not be able to hold it together. I would either be a blubbering basket case or a single-minded revenge-seeking maniac. After what Mr. and Mrs. King have already been through and knowing what they still must endure, these two human beings have managed to maintain intrinsic grace and absolute dignity amid the eclipsing haze and shadows of utter sorrow. I have nothing but respect for them … and sometimes I feel a strange and awkward sense of guilt that I can do nothing to mend their broken hearts.

Chelsea and her mother, they look so much alike. One young, one mature. To look into one’s face was to look into the other’s; both of them created in an artist’s studio by loving hands, mirrored poetry separated only by time. It must have been comforting for Chelsea to know that as she aged, the beauty of her soul would always be matched by the beauty of her lineage. The unfairness of it all is almost tangible.

Chelsea, possessed all the tools and gifts that ensured her a successful and significant life. She was a young woman who was needed, who had so much to offer, and whose time and companionship was vastly important here on Earth. Her absence is nothing less than a travesty.

And as winds whipped up distant storms brewing on the restless sea, Chelsea went about her life doing average teenage girl things and thinking average teenage girl thoughts: I hope I ace that test tomorrow. I wonder what I should wear to prom, and, What is up with my friends, anyway? Just another day in the life of a young woman until the injustice of modern society was realized. A victim among the strewn and collapsed ruins of future dreams.

But I don’t want to believe that nothing good will arise from Chelsea’s death. Awareness, stiffer laws, longer sentences, something good must come from it. Something.

Goodbye for now, Chelsea, but not forever, true Daughter and Angel of two, and adopted daughter of many, who represents to me, and perhaps to others, the essence of what is good in life, the good that can never die: love, happiness, the moon, the sea, the timeless and returning light of the evening star, and hope.

Perhaps Chelsea, in the kingdom of eternal life, is sleeping a sleep that has no time. She sleeps on a bed inside a comfortable room within a snug little house. The house has no doors and the windows have no glass; there is nothing to fear here, only love exists. A beautiful moon suspended in a cloudless starlit night, bathes her content though restless face in the sublime radiance of immortal perfection. And perhaps the moment when the divinity of ethereal sunshine fills her room, finally awakening her (to us in the physical world, years have passed, but to the blessed not hampered by the human condition, it’s been mere minutes), she will find her mother and her father standing in the doorway with their arms outstretched, tearfully waiting to embrace the warm beauty of their Angel who was taken away so long ago.

I began writing this on 03/02/2010. I just found out a few hours ago that Amber Dubois’s remains were discovered on the Pala Reservation. Another beautiful, well loved girl with wonderful and caring parents, gone. She too had her whole future in front of her. Her life had hardly begun.

The morning she disappeared, Amber had had a $200 check with her that she was going to use to purchase a lamb for her Future Farmers of America project. When I read this, again, I was overcome with tears. The innocence she left home with on that morning and the anticipated wonder and delight of raising a lamb to maturity must have bubbled inside of her like a barely contained effervescing joy. Having it all cut short is an injury to our collective hearts.

I’m so sorry, Chelsea; I’m so sorry, Amber. If I … if we could have prevented it from happening, we would have. Maybe we can prevent it from happening again.


CuddleFish March 8, 2010 @ 11:01 a.m.

It is obvious from your writing, Quill, that you are close to this tragedy.

I can't yet think of what they may be experiencing in heaven, if there is such a place, or on another spiritual plane, if there is such an existence. I still think of their mortal bodies, of what they must have endured in their last day, hours, moments, things no person, no young girl should have to suffer. This is what I think of when I think of them, and I can't imagine this isn't what their parents torment themselves thinking of, if they can bear to think of it at all.

My thoughts and prayers are with the families.


PistolPete March 8, 2010 @ 1:20 p.m.

I'll refrain from arguing with CF and I'll refrain from posting my thoughts about Chelsea's parents but I will say this, Quillpena...The best thing you can do for your daughter right now is hug her, tell her you love her and try your best to educate her without overprotecting her. It's a delicate balance and I wish you the best.


SDaniels March 8, 2010 @ 2:28 p.m.

Hey quill, you should send this to the parents. I saw them on Larry King too, and they gave a Web site address. It was something like Chelseaslight.com--easy enough to find.

Psychologically, I think the only comfort that comes of such situations as these is that the loved ones left to suffer are empathized with by the community at large--a unique benefit everyone deserves but most people don't get. When someone we love dies, we can't understand how the sun goes on shining, and everyone is out there walking and driving and coming out of Starbucks, and all of the daily things we would be doing if the world had not just ended. Parents of children whose deaths are so publicized have at least this--the letters and expressions of love and understanding, and the sentiments of total strangers feeling their pain, and the loss of their loved one--who was indeed the world to them. So..yeah, you should totally send this on to them...


antigeekess March 8, 2010 @ 9:13 p.m.

It's a Facebook page, SD. http://www.facebook.com/chelseaslight

Quilly, this is lovely. SD's right. You should sent it, or a link to this page.

And if I could make a suggestion to you, and to all mothers and fathers of beautiful young daughters? Get your daughter into martial arts. Teach her to defend herself. Make sure she knows information like this:


This should be required in schools, IMO. Reports on self-defense techniques, martial arts in P.E. class, etc., etc.

The most important thing? Be loud. Don't be afraid of being wrong for confronting someone if you feel threatened, and don't worry about hurting somebody's feelings. To hell with that. He'll get over it.

Women are prey. Period. A lone female is exactly what everybody from purse snatchers to rapists and serial killers are looking for. Keep your eyes open. Look around, and be suspicious. The element of surprise is their greatest weapon. Make sure they never have it.


quillpena March 10, 2010 @ 2:24 a.m.

I did. thanks for the encouragement, CF, SD, AG, and Pete. Why'd he get removed, anyway?


antigeekess March 10, 2010 @ 6:36 a.m.

Re #5:

Oh, I just can't IMAGINE. Let's see, what could it be? Probably...

a.)either from basically daring the daring the Reader to ban him & telling them to go f*** themselves (nice guest behavior).

b.)repeated racial slurs finally noticed and acted upon by someone outside, such as the NAACP.


CuddleFish March 10, 2010 @ 10:22 a.m.

And that's the short list. Come on, Quill.


quillpena March 10, 2010 @ 11:44 a.m.

I've only been blogging regularly for a few months. I'm still unfamiliar with everybody's public idiosyncrasies, even my own. So, #@%&$ off, you &^#@s! Just kidding.


SDaniels March 10, 2010 @ 11:57 a.m.

Oh, quill? Listen, not sure if you know this, but if you wanted more people to comment on this thread re: its topic, you would want to put the title as "Goodbye Chelsea and Amber," or something to that effect...otherwise you are just going to hear from the usual suspects...;)


CuddleFish March 10, 2010 @ 12:47 p.m.

Oh ha, Daniels, I thought you were going to say if you want more comments, you ought to read and contribute to other people's threads, that way you get to know people, too, and their "idiosyncracies." Never mind, I said it. ;)


quillpena March 10, 2010 @ 1:25 p.m.

Good advice, SD. Is Pete gone for good or just temporarily suspended? There has to be an antagonist in the mix. Someone to stir up the pot, right?


SDaniels March 10, 2010 @ 2:40 p.m.

It appears so, though I would not hold my breath. True, but not to that extent, quillie. All he did was try to create dissent and misunderstanding between posters, stirring up any controversy until it became unlikely people could resolve differences through posts--not to mention the fact that he wrote to denigrate various ethnic and racial groups to no purpose, and believe me, I am all about dialogue on these matters, having been an activist in college myself. I believe people shouldn't be censored, but after months of what everyone here experienced as straight harassment, well, you can't blame us for being relieved. Let dissent come through, but let it be open to constructive dialogue and respectful of others' and their opinions...


SDaniels March 10, 2010 @ 2:42 p.m.

Oops, meant to say "respectful of others' opinions." ;)


CuddleFish March 10, 2010 @ 3:34 p.m.

Let's not get into discussing the troll's bad points, that's a bottomless pit.


quillpena March 10, 2010 @ 4:57 p.m.

The "troll." You guys are killing me.


MsGrant March 10, 2010 @ 7:35 p.m.

Quill, that was really, really nice. And sad. And good.

Please just take our word that it is better without Pete. You would have eventually been the target of his sick self.


Sign in to comment

Let’s Be Friends

Subscribe for local event alerts, concerts tickets, promotions and more from the San Diego Reader