The pastor of the Clover Road Baptist Church, 77-year-old Clifford Lane Lawless, is not a suspect in the murder of Sandra Cantu according to Tracy police spokesman Sgt. Tony Sheneman in this Tracy Press article. His granddaughter Melissa Huckaby is.
Lawless, a pastor of the church since 1981, has no criminal history and no civil lawsuits against him in San Joaquin County, court records show. The only property he owns in San Joaquin County is his mobile home.
But the Clover Road Baptist Church seems as physically isolated from the rest of the city, one of the last buildings on a dead-end street, as it seems culturally set apart from other churches in town.
Several Tracy pastors said they don’t know that much about Lawless; he doesn’t join the 15 or 20 other pastors in town for Thursday prayer breakfasts.
Tim Heinrich of the Crossroads Baptist Church said Lawless declines to network with fellow pastors in town. Other pastors said the church has few events and focuses on church history because it disagrees with some of the tenets of others churches.
No one in the neighborhood surrounding Orchard Estates said they attend the Baptist church — surrounded now by yellow crime-scene tape. About a dozen neighbors said they don’t know anyone who does and that it has a tiny congregation.
Folks from a Jehovah’s Witness church across the street from Clover Road Baptist said they’ve never talked to anyone from the congregation. Pastors, members and elders of a handful of other churches in northern Tracy said the same thing.
However, F.B.I. agents have searched a church in Washington State and spoke to members of a church in Lewiston, Id. in connection with the Sandra Cantu investigation. There were apparently alleged child abuse at the Lewiston church.
Detectives investigating the murder of a California girl have taken their case to Lewiston, Idaho.
A television station in Sacramento reports authorities have questioned people at the Warner Alliance Church in North Idaho. Police are questioning people about Pastor Lane Lawless.
Earlier this month, the FBI went to the First Church of God in Clarkston, Wash., to ask questions about Lane Lawless, who is Huckaby’s grandfather and currently serves as pastor of Clover Road Baptist Church in Tracy.
Huckaby, who was set to return to a Stockton courtroom on Friday, has been charged with murdering Cantu.
Meanwhile, a source close to the investigation said that in the mid-’80s there were allegations of child abuse and/or molestation somehow connected to the First Church of God. Lawless was working at the Clarkston church at the time and was questioned regarding the allegations, but nobody was ever charged.