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Predator charged with murder was on MySpace

The social networking site MySpace said Thursday that it removed the profile of a registered sex offender who is charged with murdering a 17-year-old girl.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The social networking site MySpace said Thursday that it removed the profile of a registered sex offender who is charged with murdering a 17-year-old girl.

The company said it worked with the FBI and the San Diego County Sheriff's Department to confirm the profile belonged to John Albert Gardner III, who used a false name, birthday and hometown to register for the account. It removed the profile Wednesday night.

A copy of the profile obtained by The Associated Press uses the names Jason Stud and Energizer Bunny. It uses sexually explicit language to describe his interests, names Playboy Mansion as his hometown and lists "CSI" and "Bones" among his favorite television shows.

Gardner, 30, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Chelsea King, whose body was found five days after she vanished Feb. 25 on a run in a San Diego park. He is a suspect, but has not been charged, in the death of 14-year-old Amber Dubois, whose remains were found March 6 in a remote area north of San Diego, more than a year after she disappeared walking to school.

MySpace said the account was set up on Dec. 22, 2007, more than nine months before Gardner ended parole on a conviction in 2000 for molesting a 13-year-old neighbor. The account would violate terms of his parole, which prohibited him from using a computer to connect to the Internet or communicate with others.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has not independently confirmed that the MySpace profile was created or used by Gardner, or that he used the site while on parole, said spokesman Oscar Hidalgo. He said the California Sex Offender Management Board, a panel made up law enforcement, victims and treatment experts, would investigate.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has asked the board to investigate how the corrections department handled the case.

My Space said it was alerted to the account by law enforcement officials.

"MySpace has a zero tolerance policy against registered sex offenders and uses cutting edge technology to identify and delete such profiles from our site," said Hemanshu Nigam, chief security officer of MySpace and parent company News Corp. "For the past several years, MySpace has advocated and testified in favor of federal and state legislation that would empower Web sites to block sex offenders who utilize false identities, like John Gardner, from their communities."

The San Diego Union-Tribune first reported on Gardner's MySpace profile late Wednesday. It said the link was discovered by Robert Scott, a Los Angeles private investigator who operates an online data retrieval service called Skip Smasher.

Scott said he plugged Gardner's name into his search engines to get an e-mail account registered to the suspect.

"It was remarkably simple," he said Thursday.

Gardner's attorney, public defender Michael Popkins, declined to comment Thursday night. A judge has issued a gag order to bar attorneys from discussing the case publicly.

Gardner served five years of a six-year sentence for child molestation and was on parole for three years until September 2008.

MySpace said Gardner was an infrequent user who had two friends. A posting on the profile in May 2008 read: "I'm poor, homeless and living in my truck."

Another posting said "love is just one big ugly compromise of two people pretending not to know what the other is doing."

The profile's last login was on Feb. 24, the day before Chelsea went missing.